The Skinny: The Nets opened the game 7-of-8 from the field, with Joe Johnson coming out of the gate with the hot hand. Brook Lopez then scored eight straight Nets’ points to open an eight-point lead. Lopez and Johnson combined to shoot 10-for-13 for 22 points in the opening frame, helping Brooklyn take a seven-point lead after one.
A 7-0 Pacers’ run got Indiana back to within three early in the second quarter. But Deron Williams scored seven straight Nets’ points during a 12-2 run, which put Brooklyn ahead by 14. Williams then drilled two more three-pointers to increase the lead to 21. He scored 20 points in the quarter, and the Nets led by 19 at the break.
Williams kept up his offensive pace to start the third quarter. After converting on a four-point play, he had 30 points for the game with less than two minutes elapsed in the quarter. The Pacers started gaining some steam offensively as the quarter progressed. Reggie Evans was ejected for picking up his second technical foul, and tempers began to flare on both sides as Lance Stephenson and Keith Bogans picked up technical fouls. The Pacers all of sudden got back to within four as Paul George found his offensive stroke. A clutch three-pointer by Joe Johnson gave the Nets a bit of breathing room, and Brooklyn led by seven after three.
Indiana was relentless offensively, and a three-point play from Tyler Hansbrough got the Pacers within two. A three-pointer from Stephenson a few minutes later put the Pacers ahead. Johnson and George traded threes, and Jerry Stackhouse put the Nets ahead with another three. Andray Blatche capitalized on huge put-back lay-up, which increased the Brooklyn lead to seven with just over a minute remaining. Late free-throws iced the game, sealing the Nets’ win.
High Scorers: D-Will led all scorers with 33 points on 10-of-23 shooting and dished out 14 assists for the double-double. For the Pacers, West led the way with 26 points on 11-of-13 from the field and grabbed nine rebounds.
Key Stats: The Pacers outscored the Nets 58-28 in the paint, which was a huge factor in their comeback.
Who Was Hot: Lopez shot 10-of-16 for 23 points and blocked five shots. Joe Johnson relied on his fast start to shoot 9-of-17 for 24 points. Roy Hibbert recorded a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Paul George got hotter as the game progressed and scored 21 points.
Who Was Not: Bogans struggled from the outside missing all three of his three-point attempts. George Hill had a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds, but he shot just 4-of-13 from the field.
Fun Fact: Stackhouse and Hansbrough were both voted First Team All-Americans and MVPs of the ACC Tournament while playing for the University of North Carolina.
This game had a playoff feel in the second half, but the Nets let the Pacers crawl back into contention after a dominant first half. Blowing a 24-point lead isn’t exactly a good way to tune up for the playoffs.
But the Nets were able to hang on late to get the win.
Deron Williams took control of the game in the second quarter. He was unstoppable after a slow start, and he has now averaged 29.6 points per game in his last five games against the Pacers.
However, it definitely was not a good sign to see him writhing in pain as the game finished.
The 69 points were the most scored in a first half this season by the Nets – which is incredibly impressive since Indiana is the No. 2 ranked defensive team in the NBA. The 117 points were the most the Pacers have allowed all season.
Brooklyn is now 4-0 this season when Williams, Johnson and Lopez each score 20-plus points in the same game this season.
The win clinches the Nets’ fifth winning month of this season, marking the first time since the 2002-2003 season that the team has had at least five winning months in one season.
The Nets also swept the Pacers in the season series this year, which is the first time they’ve done so since the 2006-2007 campaign.
With the win, the Nets keep their hopes of a possible No. 3 seed alive. They would have to win their final three games, while the Pacers would have to lose out. That being said though, the Nets will be hosting a playoff series as at least the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Brooklyn (47-32) heads north of the border Sunday afternoon to attempt a season sweep against the Toronto Raptors. The 3:30 p.m. game will be televised on the YES Network.
Jim Mancari is a Contributor to SNYNets.com. Follow him on Twitter @JMMancari.