Nets beat Pacers, earn at least No. 4 seed
The Indiana Pacers came back from 24 points down in the third quarter to take the lead against the Brooklyn Nets, but fell 117-109 Friday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
117 points is most allowed by the Pacers all season. Indiana lost for the third time in the last four games, with just three games left in the regular season.
"As a group, we're very concerned," said forward David West, who scored 26 points to lead the Pacers. "At this time of the year, we should be gearing up, sort of focusing on tweaks that we're going to make as the year comes to a close. We just haven't been able to rely on our defense."
The Pacers (49-30) dug themselves a huge hole for the second straight game this week. The Nets (47-32) shot 71 percent in the first quarter and led by as many as 21 in the first half. The Pacers allowed 69 points in the first half, the most this season. Nets point guard Deron Williams scored 25 of his game-high 33 points in the first half. The Brooklyn lead expanded to 24 in the third quarter before the Pacers turned up the defense and got back in the game.
"We can't rely on the second half to try and make a comeback," said Pacers forward Paul George, who scored 21 points. "I don't think we're fatigued. I just think it's our mindset. We've got to get back to playing how we play."
The Pacers took their first lead at 101-99 on a Lance Stephenson three-pointer with 5:00 left in the game. That was also their only lead. The Nets quickly regained control with three-pointers from Joe Johnson (24 points) and Jerry Stackhouse. Brooklyn hit 12-of-25 from long distance in the game. The Nets swept all three games against the Pacers this season.
"We can fix it now," said George Hill, who scored 17 points to go with 10 assists. "In the playoffs, it might be too late. I'm thankful that it's happening now and gives us something to learn from and move on from."
The loss prevented the Pacers from clinching no worse than the 3rd playoff seed in the Eastern Conference. The Pacers still lead the Nets by two games for the 3rd seed. The Pacers trail the Knicks by three games for the 2nd seed. The Pacers have three games left in the regular season. Indiana visits New York Sunday at 3:30 p.m. The Knicks have won 14 of their past 15 games.
"Clearly we have to start games with a bigger sense of urgency than we've started them the last few games," said Pacers coach Frank Vogel. "To win in the playoffs, you have to play with that sense of urgency that we played with in the fourth quarter for four quarters. We didn't do that tonight. Ultimately it was costly."