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Pacers final score: Nets dominate Pacers on glass in 136-133 win

Brooklyn, playing without eight rotation players, dominated Indiana in rebounding, parlaying that into a surprising road win. Tyrese Haliburton led the Pacers with 35 points and nine assists.

NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Indiana Pacers Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The surprising news earlier this afternoon that the Brooklyn Nets would be resting an entire eight-man rotation against the Indiana Pacers completely changed the outlook of tonight’s game, ultimately catching the Pacers flat-footed in an incredibly disappointing loss to the backup Nets.

The tone was set early in this one when Brooklyn took a first quarter lead with back-to-back second chance point opportunities, eventually going up by nine despite Tyrese Haliburton and Jalen Smith pouring in five three pointers in less than five minutes. Indiana quickly went to the bench, using that boost of energy to close the gap, though despite a season high 38 points, they still trailed, allowing 40.

Throughout the night, Indiana would find themselves in comfortable situations, such as opening the second quarter on a 15-3 run to take what appeared to be a commanding 10-point lead. Each and every time the Pacers found themselves in such a position, they would grow fat, allowing the Nets to quickly storm back and regain their composure if not the lead outright.

Indiana’s three point shooting always gave them an out, however, totaling 76 points in the first half and going up 94-80 halfway through the third, once again appearing to have things completely under control. Besides some lackadaisical defense and an inability to contend with Brooklyn’s floaters, another major issue was rebounding.

As the Nets methodically sliced into that 14-point deficit for the remainder of the third, they would do so by pulling in three offensive rebounds, leading to seven second chance points. That particular stat isn’t quite as eyepopping as the final number will wind up being, but it highlighted a major concern after Brooklyn cut the lead to three before Aaron Nesmith extended it back to out to five at the end of the third.

Once in the fourth, the Nets eventually tied things up at 105-105, only salvaged by five points from Oshae Brissett. The starters quickly returned, this time picking up the slack in effort, scoring the next seven. Myles Turner would make it a nine-point lead with a three in transition off of an Andrew Nembhard rebound with 7:14 remaining in the fourth.

That rebound (and basket) is notable because it’s the last rebound of the game for Indiana. Not of a specific stretch, but the game. That’s because the Nets bullied the Pacers into submission on the glass from that point forward, turning an already ugly rebounding battle into a massacre.

The Nets missed shots to be sure. They missed the opening shots on their next two possessions. They also followed up each miss with a second chance bucket, cutting the lead to four. They were two of five down the stretch, all leading to points for Brooklyn and before the Pacers realized what happened, they were trailing 128-122 with under two minutes remaining.

Some jostling on the scoreboard and some lengthy reviews later, the Pacers got a decent look from Nembhard with a chance to tie, but his three pointer was off, dropping Indiana 136-133 at home.

The final numbers: The Nets won the rebounding battle 59-30. For a majority of the game, the gap was pretty severe, but the defensive battle was the same for both sides. That obviously changed with Indiana’s inability to get a single rebound in the final seven minutes of action, giving the Nets a 29-23 advantage on the defensive glass.

That means Brooklyn outrebounded Indiana 29-7 on the offensive end, including an almost unfathomable 37-12 advantage in second chance points, including 72 points in the paint for good measure. This made up the difference in the game tonight, moreso than Indiana’s 21-9 advantage from three or 55% shooting overall. They also missed four free throws in the fourth.

Haliburton led the way with 35 points, jumping out quickly as a scorer by hitting his first three threes, eventually hitting six straight before finishing 7-8 from deep, a career best, with nine assists and three steals. He did have five turnovers, however, some miscues here and there, but turnovers were another problem for the Pacers in stretches, made to pay for giving up possessions in a game where they couldn’t finish them defensively.

There were seven double figure scorers in total for Indiana, including 17 and a team high three offensive boards from Buddy Hield and 16 from Turner, scoring 12 in the fourth. Jalen Smith shot well tonight, hitting three threes, finishing with 13. Nesmith also shot well, hitting all four of his shots (2-2 from three) to score 12.

Brissett led the way off the bench with 14 before he fouled out in the fourth. Bennedict Mathurin had 13, missing all three of his attempts, but leading the team with seven rebounds. Among guys that gave it to the Pacers tonight included Edmond Sumner, scoring 18 of his 21 points in the first half, finishing with seven rebounds and five assists.

This Pacers team hasn’t given away games like this much this year, just their second loss when leading after three quarters. This was a bad one by any measure, however, especially given some of the rebounding concerns that were prominent on the recent road trip. After a fairly successful start to the season in allowing just one game of double digit offensive rebounds in the first nine games, they’ve since allowed 15 in the 18 since.

The struggles finding reliable big man play has been part of that. Despite scoring well, Smith logged just 13 minutes tonight and Isaiah Jackson continued to struggle, playing just 12. Surprisingly, there was no time tonight for Terry Taylor, though it’s hard to imagine Rick Carlisle and the coaching staff imagining the rebounding getting as bad as it got down the stretch.

The Pacers will be back in action on Monday night, hosting the Miami Heat. The Heat have fell to 12-15 on the year with a loss to San Antonio tonight and will enter the game in the bottom five in rebounding. Of course the Nets are also in the bottom five, albeit with guys that all sat out tonight.