Monday, December 23, 2013 at 7:30 PM ET at the Barclays Center
Game Rewind: Pacers 103, Nets 86
Scott Agness | December 23, 2013
One night after posting his third triple-double of the season, Lance Stephenson and the Pacers (23-5) put on a show in Brooklyn Monday night before taking a break for the holidays. Stephenson followed up his big night with another, scoring 10 of his career-high 26 points in the final quarter as the Pacers blew past the Nets (9-18), 103-86.
Indiana, which has the league’s best defense, held their third consecutive opponent to 38 percent shooting and 86 points or less. Those stops have stimulated the offense, and they’ve topped triple digits in every one of those three games.
The Nets may have been without Brook Lopez, who recently fractured his right foot and is out for the season, but their big men were active early. Kevin Garnett and Andray Blatche were responsible for 11 of their 17 points in the opening period. After going in front 16-10, Brooklyn’s offense stalled and they failed to make a field goal in the final 5:36. The Pacers closed the first frame on a 9-1 run and led by two.
Stephenson, the Brooklyn native, kept attacking and caught the Nets in bad spots defensively. On one fast break, he wisely pulled up at the foul line for two. Another time down, he drove the baseline and zipped a pass to Paul George for a 3-pointer. Stephenson caused confusion amongst the Nets, who tried to show different looks. After two quarters, Stephenson had 14 points with five rebounds. The Pacers gave up 16 points in the paint but hit all nine of their foul shots, controlled the glass and led 45-39 at intermission.
The Pacers shot 60 percent and held the Nets to 35 percent in the third quarter while outscoring them by 11. Paul George had 10 in the period and 26 on the night, including two early 3-pointers. The Pacers used a 26-8 start to start the third, including 11 straight, to go ahead by 24. Frustration mounted for the Nets and longtime Celtics forward Paul Pierce was tossed after he clotheslined George Hill during a layup in transition.
The Nets got as close as 15 with more than nine minutes to go but the Pacers' depth and weapons at all positions showed in this one. With 4:37 to play, Stephenson drained a deep shot beyond the arc, raising his career-high point total to 26. Playing in front of dozens of family and friends, Stephenson was all smiles. The reserves played the final three minutes as the Pacers rolled to their third consecutive win while snapping a two-game road losing streak.
With no game scheduled on Christmas Day, the Pacers have four games between games and return to action next Saturday when these same Nets make their first trip of the season to Indianapolis.
Inside the Numbers
Lance Stephenson raised his career-high to 26 points on 10-of-16 shooting. It’s his third time this season scoring at least 20, with all three occurring in the last six games.
Paul George turned in 26, as well, along with six rebounds and five assists. In the third quarter of the last four games, he’s scored 11, 12, 18, and 10 tonight. David West had 13 and George Hill added 10.
Joe Johnson led the Nets with 17 points. With 12 points, Kevin Garnett was in double figures for just the fourth time this season. Andray Blatche and Jason Terry each tallied 11 off the bench.
Defense is key. The Pacers are 15-0 this season when holding opponents to less than 90 points, and 13-0 when keeping them below 40 percent shooting.
The Pacers had the rebounding edge, 46-36, and they scored 13 second-chance points off eight offensive boards.
Both teams turned it over 17 times but the Pacers scored seven more points off of giveaways.
"It’s a really good win for us on the second night of a back-to-back. We came in here and grinded out a win despite not being completely sharp the whole game. ... Lance Stephenson and Paul George just keep putting in special performances. They’re really giving us a big lift." – Frank Vogel
"They're listening and they are following the plan. When we follow the plan, we have great results. It’s a credit to these guys with mental focus. We have the physical abilities and the talent on this team but their focus, discipline and how they are playing is pretty strong." – Frank Vogel on his team
"I think hands-down, he's the Most Improved Player in the league so far. He continues to give us a great lift." – Frank Vogel on Lance Stephenson
"I feel like every shot is going in when I shoot. That's how confident I feel right now. ... Just playing hard, playing aggressive. Just trying to create for others and making smart plays." – Lance Stephenson
“That’s what coach has been preaching all year long. The defense travels. We can put that in a suitcase and take it anywhere we want to. The offense may not travel but defense travels and that's what we try to do." – George Hill on their defense
Stat of the Game
A big point of emphasis for the Pacers was their 3-point defense. The Nets, who had averaged 13 makes over their last five games, were held to 6-of-26 (23 percent) from outside.
- The Pacers have won the last two meetings.
- Nets guard Jason Terry returned after missing the last 15 games due to a bruised left knee.
- The Pacers’ 23-5 (.821) record at Christmas break is their best in franchise history, just ahead of their 21-8 (.724) mark in 2003-04.
- Without another game until Saturday, Pacers coach Frank Vogel is giving the team two days off for Christmas.