Nets vs. Pacers: Back in Brooklyn to Face Indiana

The Brooklyn Nets are back at Barclays Center Monday night against the Indiana Pacers after wrapping up their five-game road trip with a 117-111 win over the Chicago Bulls on Saturday night. Monday’s game tips off a three-game home stretch, with the Nets facing the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday and the Sacramento Kings on Friday.

Saturday’s game was the first the Nets played this season without Kyrie Irving. They were also without Caris LeVert and coming off two tough losses in which they held 15-point second-half leads. Digging deep into the roster — including the newly arrived Iman Shumpert — the Nets came from behind in the fourth quarter and held off the Bulls in the final minutes for the win that gave them a 2-3 record for the trip.

“Last game of the road trip,” said head coach Kenny Atkinson. “We all know how difficult those games are. Just 15 guys bonding together. I don’t think it was pretty. But credit to our players, 100 percent. Really gutty performance.”


With both Kyrie Irving and Caris LeVert out, Spencer Dinwiddie made his first start of the season and delivered when it counted.

“He took over,” said Kenny Atkinson. “His drives, how aggressive he was, understanding the mismatch, understanding when to get it out of the blitz. He was just fantastic.”

Dinwiddie scored 20 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter, making 14-of-15 free throws, including 9-of-9 in the final 1:35.

“He’s like a tailback sometimes,” said Atkinson. “You just keep pitching it to him and he just keeps going around end and he keeps going and he keeps going and he’s so fast. He’s got to be one of the fastest guys in the league. He was outstanding. Obviously got to the free throw line a ton. That’s his game. I think they were trying to send two to him, so I think he did a good job beating those two sometimes but also getting the ball out. I think he played a really complete game. Then we put him on Zach LaVine as our stopper, so great game by Spence.”

It was the third 20-point game of the trip for Dinwiddie, who opened up the trek with 34 points in a win at Portland. He averaged 22.8 points over the five road games.


There were times in Saturday night’s game in which the Nets were unrecognizable, relative to the lineup they had on the floor compared to a week earlier.

Rookie Nic Claxton played in his first NBA game in Portland at the start of the trip. Saturday night he played 17 minutes and scored eight points on 4-of-6 shooting. Claxton averaged 14.0 minutes per game on the trip.

Dzanan Musa also saw his role increase with the Nets on the road, averaging 18.0 minutes per game. Theo Pinson played his first significant minutes of the season, scoring 10 points in 18 minutes with three assists. Iman Shumpert signed this week and saw his first action as a Net on Saturday, playing 12 minutes. Six Nets scored in double figures in the win.

“I think that’s what we’re about,” said Kenny Atkinson. “We’ve got to trust these guys. These guys put in a lot of work. They’ve been in our program a while. So they understand what we’re doing. We talked about before, we can’t burn out our other guys. Our top eight guys. We can’t play them 45 minutes. Those guys contributions were huge. I thought Theo really got in a rhythm in the second half and in that stretch in the first made some big shots. Nic Claxton was good. It’s like the ultimate team victory when your best player’s out, let’s be honest, and everybody steps it up a level. It’s a real boost to our morale.”


Indiana is Brooklyn’s stylistic opposite, ranking 29th in 3-point attempts (25.7) and 25th in pace (100.04). The Pacers are also eighth in defensive rating (103.4) and average the fifth fewest turnovers in the NBA (13.9).

They’ve gotten off to a 7-6 start as they await the return of injured guard Victor Oladipo, who has been assigned to the G League in the latest step on his rehab. Guard Malcolm Brogdon, Milwaukee’s sixth man last season, has led Indiana with 19.2 points and 8.4 assists per game. Forward Domantas Sabonis averages 18.1 points and 13.4 rebounds. Center Myles Turner was back in the lineup Saturday against Milwaukee after missing eight games with an ankle injury suffered against the Nets on Oct. 30.

Sabonis had 29 points, eight rebounds and four assists and Brogdon had 21 points and 13 assists in Indiana’s 118-108 win over the Nets in their first meeting this season.