The Brooklyn Nets came into this season with championship aspirations, but after a 96-91 loss to the Indiana Pacers at the Barclays Center on Saturday they have the worst record in the Eastern Conference.
“One loss is frustrating,” Brook Lopez said after the game. “We don’t really accept that here, but it’s definitely a process and we’re learning. It is early, that’s one thing.”
The story in this game is a familiar one — the Nets struggled in the third quarter and missed opportunities late in the game to beat the Pacers.
The two teams were very evenly matched from the start though. The Nets shot 45.2 percent, the Pacers 43.9, the Nets had 20 rebounds, the Pacers 21, points in the paint was 20-18 Pacers, second chance points 6-4 Pacers, there were seven lead changes and they were tied four different times.
The Nets did a good job spreading their offense around. Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson led with eight points each and Mason Plumlee was impressive off the bench with six points, strong defense and good energy. He could have had more as Deron Williams tried to set him up on a couple of ally-oops, but D-Will was too strong with the first attempt and too soft with the second.
The Nets went into the half with a slim 46-44 lead, but the dreaded third quarter struck again as they were outscored 28-21. Their saving grace was Joe Johnson, who had nine points in the frame, but Paul George and David West ran amok and scored a combined 16 points. The Nets were also dominated on the board 12-6 and trailed 72-67 heading into the fourth.
Despite the poor third quarter, the Nets did give themselves a chance to win, or at least tie this game. Trailing by three points in the final 1:33, they had two turnovers and two missed shots, including a three attempt from Joe Johnson that could have tied it with 11.8 seconds left.
“It was a great look,” Johnson said of his final shot attempt. “It felt good. It just didn’t go down. We definitely needed it that time.”