On the first game of a difficult three-game road trip, Paul Pierce and the Brooklyn Nets simply did not have enough answers for Paul George and the rest of the Indiana Pacers. Pierce led Brooklyn with 18 points and five rebounds.
The Nets were able to hang tough through the first half as they scored 56 points. The team struggled to get stops, however, and the Pacers led at halftime 58-56.
As a team up to that point, Brooklyn was taking care of the ball with just four turnovers in the half. They were also able to generate high quality shots against the NBA's best defensive team.
Then came the third quarter, a quarter which has been the downfall for the Nets this season and also where the Pacers have taken control of most of their games.
The Pacers simply did what they have done all season long to their opponents; ramp up the defense and force either turnovers or difficult shots. They forced the Nets to turn the ball over on four straight possessions which led to an 11-3 run by the Pacers that put them up for good. Brooklyn was never able to get much closer the rest of the way.
Nets coach Jason Kidd stated after the game, "They took control of the third quarter with our turnovers, and those turnovers converting into layups."
The 11-3 run by Indiana gave the home team a 72-61 lead early in the third and they never looked back. The Pacers held the Nets to just 35 points in the second half.
The Pacers were led by terrific performances from Paul George, George Hill and Lance Stephenson. George led the way with 24 points and three steals. Hill finished with 21 points and was faced with the task of guarding the Nets point guard Deron Williams.
"I thought Hill was our best player tonight," exclaimed Pacers coach Frank Vogel. "He played exceptional defense on Deron Williams."
Stephenson was his usual self by filling up the stat sheet. He finished with 23 points, seven assists, nine rebounds and made all eight of his free throw attempts.
The Nets had few answers for the Pacers wing players, who shot a combined 22 of 34 from the field and 7 of 14 from three, including a four-point play by Paul George in the third quarter. The Pacers shot over 53 percent for the game.
With Andray Blacthe missing this game, the Kidd decided to re-insert forward Mirza Teletovic into the starting lineup due to the Pacers having Roy Hibbert and David West inside. Shaun Livingston, who started the last game, was moved back to the bench. Teletovic scored 17 points and hit three trey's from deep.
Pierce was probably the Nets best player on the day, Joe Johnson and Kevin Garnett each seemed to really struggle with the Pacers defense. Johnson finished just four of 12 and scored nine points. Garnett played 21 minutes and made just one of his five field goal attempts. He had just two points on the night.
If the Nets were going to win this game they needed a big performance out of Williams. They did not get that. Williams scored 14 points off his 11 field goal attempts and had six assists on the game. It was an okay game for the guard but if they were going to beat the one of the best team's in the league, Brooklyn simply needed more out of their best player. Williams was outplayed by George Hill.
The Nets (10-20) will now head to Texas for a showdown in San Antonio on Tuesday night with the Spurs. If the team wants to have a different outcome in the next game, their stars will have to step up.
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