After three disappointing losses to start the season, the Indiana Pacers turned their frustrations towards the Brooklyn Nets, putting themselves over the top in the second half to pick up their first win of the young season. The Pacers jumped out to their first double figure lead of the season by outscoring the Nets 16-6 to start and while Brooklyn was able to erase the lead, the Pacers never faltered, holding their own through the rest of the first.
Late in the first, however, they were dealt a tough blow when Myles Turner turned his ankle against Garrett Temple, forcing the big man out of the game after an excellent seven point first quarter. In adjusting without Turner, defense became even more optional than usual, as the Nets opened up a seven point advantage early in the second quarter.
The Pacers were in place with timely shooting to keep the game from ever getting out of reach. Solid three point shooting helped close the gap, as did their ability to force the Nets into numerous turnovers. While they were never able to push into the lead before halftime, their ability to exploit the equally porous Brooklyn defense helped bring them to within three at the break at 63-60.
A familiar back and forth game flow continued through the first six minutes of the third quarter with both teams threatening to take control of the game, but after Jeremy Lamb and Joe Harris traded threes, it was Indiana that managed to finally break free on the scoreboard. T.J. Warren scored four straight to help kick off a 13-3 run that put the Pacers up 90-80 with just over two minutes remaining in the third.
The Pacers held on to close the quarter, limiting a potential 5-6 point Brooklyn run to just three after three separate Nets came up short in the final seconds of scoring. That ability to get out of the quarter up seven instead of five or less came in handy when Brooklyn scored the first five of the fourth quarter to cut the lead to just two.
A trio of smooth Jeremy Lamb buckets flanked a Holiday Bros. corner three as a response, pushing the Pacers back up double figures after Domantas Sabonis bullied his way to the basket against DeAndre Jordan. Sabonis had no trouble in the fourth quarter especially of scoring the basket whenever he wanted to, patiently going to work against Jordan and later Jarrett Allen to keep the Pacers up double figures.
Malcolm Brogdon came up halfway through the quarter with seven straight Pacers points to turn a still-in-play 11-point lead into an all-but-certain 16-point advantage a minute later. Sabonis put a stamp on the game with four minutes points a couple of minutes later as the Pacers picked up their first win of the season, defeating the Nets 118-108.
The Pacers kept pace early through their three point shooting and ability to capitalize off of Brooklyn turnovers. How they’d adjust to those advantages slipping away appeared inevitable, but the Nets never really got a handle on their ball control, allowing the Pacers to outscore the Nets 28-16 in points off turnovers.
Beyond that, Indiana never really faltered offensively in a way that jeopardized their chances of winning the game. Even when the Nets were scoring at a high level, the Pacers were always able to do just enough to keep it within reach, eventually putting themselves over the top in the third. The Pacers scored between 28 and 31 points in all four quarters, outscoring the Nets 58-45 in the second half.
The Pacers were also able to overcome the loss of Turner through excellent individual performances from their starters, including a 29-point outing from Sabonis. While one shy of his career best, this was a dominating performance from Sabonis, who left the Nets without an answer all night. Sabonis was 11-18 shooting, including a pair of threes, but was mostly at his best in the post.
Sabonis’s play made things that much easier for Brogdon, who completed his fourth straight double double to start the season with 21 points and 13 assists, six of those dimes going to Sabonis. Brogdon was just 7-19 shooting and 1-5 from three, but his seven points in the fourth quarter was crucial in help close out the win.
The return of Lamb came at the perfect time for the Pacers, who were already short Edmond Sumner even before Turner’s ankle injury. Lamb didn’t miss a beat in his return, scoring 25 points on 11-19 shooting, shooting the ball with supreme confidence. He no doubt warmed Nate McMillan’s heart by going a perfect 4-4 in the midrange, while also hitting a trio of threes.
T.J. Warren rounded out the 20-point nights with 20 of his own, coming on in the second half with 14 points after struggling early with his shooting. Warren also brought some nice energy, channeling his inner Sumner with a play on the floor to create a possession for the Pacers.
With the starters scoring 102 points, it’s no surprise the bench again didn’t pick up much flare in terms of points, combining for just 16. The second unit did provide some solid minutes in the absence of both Turner and Sumner, including a Pacers career high 32 minutes for Doug McDermott, who led the bench with six points on a pair of threes.
McDermott, along with Justin Holiday, provided at least competent defensive stands against the Nets in the second half to help keep them on the floor. J. Holiday scored five of his own, hitting a crucial corner three as a beneficiary from his brother Aaron Holiday on the pass.
A. Holiday logged 16 minutes in place of Sumner, hitting his first three of the season, but still struggling in shooting at just 1-6. He did dish two assists and pull in a rebound, joining T.J. McConnell with five combined points. Goga Bitadze got his first extended action, going scoreless in zero minutes.
Bitadze flashed some nice instincts in terms of rim protection, but was also all over the map in terms of where he needed to be on both ends of the floor in order to execute plays. Depending on the severity of Turner’s ankle, this might be a crucial early season stretch for Bitadze in earning some skill points through on-court experience that will come and go throughout the year.
Ultimately, this was a game the Pacers absolutely needed. Not only to pick up their first win, but to put together the positives in a winning setting, to show that this team, even with the rotation of injuries, is a work in progress that is building towards something. A 1-3 record may not be the ideal way to start the season, but the Pacers were able to wrap up their three game road trip with a win and will play 10 of their next 14 at home, beginning with a second matchup against the Cleveland Cavaliers.