Player of the Week. Player of the Month. Whatever he may be. He's certainly the MVP of the Brooklyn Nets when they've needed him most.
In yet another crucial game for playoff implications, Brook Lopez went off for 24 points, 11 rebounds, two blocks and one steal of 11-of-17 shooting, leading the Nets to a 111-106 victory over the Indiana Pacers. It's his 14th double-double of the season and his seventh straight game with 20 or more points. It brings up the debate as to whether or not is the leader of this team. By definition of a leader, he certainly has been.
The Nets are now 8-2 in their last 10 games and have notched their first four-game win streak of the season. They also moved a half-game past the Boston Celtics for the eighth seed, and a half-game out of the seventh seed behind the Miami Heat. They're only two games back of the slumping Milwaukee Bucks in the loss column..
Back to the game though.
It was your typical Nets. They were up by as much as 19 in the first quarter containing beautiful ball movement and excellent offensive sets. That same 19-point lead disappeared in the second quarter after Indiana outscored Brooklyn 39-24 in the quarter which cut the deficit down to three by the end of the half.
At that point, Lopez had 20 points. For reasons beyond all logic, he only took one shot in the third quarter.
Perhaps it was the reason for the Nets' inability to take control. In the absence of Lopez's stellar offense, Joe Johnson stepped up and scored 11 points in the third.
Joe was quiet throughout the fourth quarter... up until the Nets needed him that is. Joe hit a step back jumper to put Brooklyn up five with a little over a minute remaining. Then, to add salt to Indiana's wound, Johnson nailed the dagger three with 15.4 seconds remaining. Nets up eight. Crowd going berserk. Game over.
Johnson finished his night with 21 points, six rebounds and four assists. It's his third straight game with 20 or more points.
The dagger wouldn't have been possible without the tremendous defensive effort from Brooklyn on the prior possession. The Nets locked up Indiana and forced Roy Hibbert to airball a three-pointer as the shot clock expired. The Nets advanced the ball and Joe did his usual thing.
It was a pretty incredible, grind it out win. Earlier in the season if the Nets squandered a 19-point lead, they would've taken themselves out of it and probably lost the game. This time, here in late March, the same situation occurred and they fought their way out of it.
Indiana shot 45% from the field, while Brooklyn shot 50% from the field and 50% from three, while committing only eight turnovers.
Alan Anderson was again a crucial piece to the Nets' success with 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting. He's adapted to a 3-D role that he earned by covering the other teams' best players and hitting down the three ball at a pretty efficient rate.
The Nets went with Jarrett Jack for most of the fourth quarter after Deron Williams picked up his fifth foul with a little less than five minutes left in the final stanza. Jack put up some questionable shots, but finished with nine points in the quarter to help carry the scoring load. Despite the foul trouble, Williams finished with a near triple-double of 11 points, eight rebounds and six assists in 30 minutes of action.
For Indiana, George Hill led the way with 28 points and six rebounds, while David West was the only other Pacer starter to score in double digits with 14. C.J. Miles left the game in the first quarter.
"Let’s put it as it is: We’re more together," Lionel Hollins said, trying to explain the turnaround. "We care more about each other. When you’re as one, when you have adversity, you just pull together and keep fighting."
Hollins also addressed managing minutes as the Nets look at a possible post-season...
"I don’t try to manage minutes and it’s surprising to me that it’s become a huge thing in our league. I can’t speak why coaches do it, I don’t know why they do it. I don’t know why players would want to do it. I would want to play every game and I would want to play all the minutes because I don’t know how long my career will be. I don’t think managing your minutes lengthens your career by one minute."
He might have been talking about Thaddeus Young who returned after a left knee sprain and played 39 minutes, finishing with eight points, seven rebounds and four assists.
"The good thing is I'm a vet," Young said. "So I kind of know how to play and how to get myself back in the game. I wasn't making shots, but I was doing other things, which was playing defense, trying to rebound."
The Nets look to whip out the brooms and sweep the Knicks in the season series Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden. Remember if you're in attendance, rock the neon and tag us or The Brooklyn Game in your tweets. Bring that same spirit that Jeffrey Gamblero brought to the games every single night.
For more on the Indiana Pacers, check them out at Indy Cornrows
- Game Thread: Brooklyn Nets vs. Indiana Pacers, 7:30 PM - NetsDaily
- Indiana Pacers vs. Brooklyn Nets - Box Score - March 31, 2015 - ESPN
- 2nd Half Game Thread: Pacers at Nets - NetsDaily
- Indiana Pacers vs Brooklyn Nets - Recap - AP
- Pacers vs. Nets (Video) - NBA.com
- Anderson's Hoop and Harm (Video) - NBA.com
- Pacers Battling (Video) - NBA.com
- HIll All the Way (Video) - NBA.com
- Williams' Behind the Back Dish (Video) - NBA.com
- Johnson to Lopez (Video) - NBA.com
- Williams Crosses and Dishes (Video) - NBA.com
- HIbbert Denies Lopez (Video) - NBA.com
- Johnson's Dagger (Video) - NBA.com
- Rapid Reaction: Nets beat Pacers (Video) - Lenn Robbins - Brooklyn Nets
- Post Game Plus: Nets defeat Pacers (Video) - Nancy Newman - YES Network
- Anderson talks win over Pacers (Video) - Sarah Kustok - YES Network
- Hollins talks aggressive defense after win (Video) - YES Network
- Williams talks about back-and-forth game (Video) - YES Network
- Jack on effort from bench after win over Pacers (Video) - YES Network
- Nets hold off Pacers (Video) - ESPN
- Deron Williams Hits The Double-Crossover, Finds Brook Lopez For The Easy Slam (Video) - The Brooklyn Game
- Frank Vogel Is Not Happy With His Basketball Team (GIF) - The Brooklyn Game
- Why Is Roy Hibbert Shooting Crunch-Time Three-Pointers? (VIdeo) - The Brooklyn Game
- Nets, Hitting Their Stride When It Counts, Hold Off the Pacers - Andrew Keh - New York Times
- Surging Nets hold off Pacers to regain No. 8 spot in playoff race - Tim Bontemps - New York Post
- After missing 2 games with knee strain, Nets’ Young solid in return - Tim Bontemps - New York Post
- Nets top Pacers, 111-106, to move back into 8th - Andy Vasquez - The Record
- Nets notes: Thaddeus Young returns - Andy Vasquez - The Record
- Nets back in playoff spot with much-needed win over Pacers - Stefan Bondy - New York Daily News
- Nets defeat Pacers to jump back into eighth playoff spot - Rod Boone - Newsday
- Nets Win to Move Into a Playoff Spot - Alex Raskin - Wall Street Journal
- No extra motivation needed to beat Knicks - Mike Mazzeo - ESPN New York
- Nets Pull Out Victory Vs. Pacers (Grades) - Devin Kharpertian - The Brooklyn Game
- Nets extend win streak to four, top Pacers - Gregory Hrinya - Examiner
Brook Lopez’s Reinvention Spurs Nets’ Rise Up Standings - Steve Lichtenstein - WFAN
- Nets Post First Four-Game Winning Streak of Season, Bolster Playoff Push - Lenn Robbins - Brooklyn Nets
- View from the Bench: Billy King (Gallery) - Brooklyn Nets
- George Hill: 'I feel like we're giving the season away, one game at a time' - Nick Forrester - Indianapolis Star