Brooklyn Nets defeat Indiana Pacers, 89-84 in OT

USA TODAY Sports

The Nets win their 9th straight OT game after a street fight in Indianapolis.

For most of this season, the Nets have been the slowest paced team in the league. When they have managed to put a chokehold on the pace of the game, they have won almost without fail - going 18-2 when holding opponents under 90 points.

So even though the Pacers are a tough team (3rd in the conference, 20-4 at home, #1 in the NBA in defensive rating), they were in many ways a welcome sight for a Nets team that needed the comfort of a plodding pace to help them get back on track.

Add the lack of starting PG Deron Williams, and a roll in the muck proved to be exactly what the Nets needed as they out-uglied the Pacers to an 89-84 OT win tonight in Indianapolis.

Things started on a sour note for Indiana when Brook Lopez poked David West in the eye a minute into the game, causing West to miss the rest of the first half. The teams proceeded to contest virtually every shot and use large portions of the shot clock. They combined to shoot 35% in the half.

One player who did not have trouble scoring was Jeff Pendergraph, West's replacement. The Indiana PF put up 10 points in the second quarter to help the Pacers to a 5 point halftime lead. He finished with a season high 14.

The Nets began to pull away in the third quarter behind some good play by leading scorer Brook Lopez (25 points and 8 rebounds), leading rebounder Reggie Evans (22) and some intelligent and effective play from Tyshawn Taylor, who had by far the best game of his young career. Lopez controlled the middle on both ends and frustrated Indiana big man Roy Hibbert - who had a rough shooting night going 5-18. Taylor kept the trains running on time, making good decisions and playing with energy.

But with 6 minutes to go in the game, the Pacers began to show their defensive might. They held the Nets off the board completely for the next five minutes, and behind George Hill and a rejuvenated Hibbert they turned a 6 point deficit into a 4 point lead.

After All-Star SF Paul George fouled out with 1:03 to go, both Evans and Taylor split pairs from the line, getting the Nets to within two.

West went on to miss a jumper from the left block with Gerald Wallace snagging the clutch board.

Then Joe Johnson did what Joe Johnson does. With 13 seconds left, he drove the lane and muscled up a shot that banked in to tie it.

After Wallace wisely gave a foul, West found himself too far from the basket on the ensuing inbound and forced up a contested shot that fell well short, sending the game to overtime.

Without George, Indiana went into the OT significantly weakened, and the Nets took advantage. Taylor hit some big shots, including a tough finish in the lane where he showed some considerable strength.

A huge three from Wallace and a terrific Evans tip in of a Taylor miss gave the Nets a 6 point lead with 45 seconds remaining.

The Nets forced a Hill miss on the next possession, but as the ball was bouncing harmlessly out of bounds Evans inexplicably tried to corral it, stepped on the line and gave the Pacers a gift possession - which Hill converted at the line. (Ian Eagle had an explanation. "Reggie was thinking about his numbers there.", posited the vetreran broadcaster.)

But that was as close as Indiana got, as Joe Johnson iced things with a pair of FT with 8 seconds to go.

Wallace was an absolute horse for the Nets tonight in a game tailor-made for him. He posted a double-double (11 points, 11 rebounds) and helped hold George to 5 points on 1-10 shooting. Add his clutch three and his leadership and it was vintage Wallace - something the Nets desperately need.

After the game, Taylor, who played more than 34 minutes and was crucial to the win, waited to be interviewed at center court by Sarah Kustok when Wallace hijacked him. Wallace talked in Taylor's ear and patted the rookie on the chest. Wallace saw what we all saw - someone who stepped up when his team needed him.

Taylor then told Kustok. “I feel like this was just kinda the routine for rookies. You wait your turn, and when your number is called, you perform, and that’s what I tried to do.”

The Nets are now 30-22, 5th in the East, 6 games behind the 1st place Miami Heat. The Pacers are 31-21, dropping to 4th place in the East, 5 games behind the Heat.

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