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Nets test young guns and come up short against Indiana, 106-97

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NBA: Indiana Pacers at Brooklyn Nets Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — We’re 50 games into the season and we FINALLY got a sneak peak into the future, as the Nets finally started the three building blocks of the team. We call them, “Brooklyn’s Brothers,” and they go by the names of Caris LeVert, Isaiah Whitehead and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson.

Unfortunately, the three young’uns debut in the starting lineup didn’t go so well.

The three combined to shoot 2-of-14 from the floor with only 8 points, as Brook Lopez was the only starter in double figures. The Indiana Pacers (27-22) handed the Brooklyn Nets (9-41) its eighth straight loss and 11th straight at home with the score, 106-97, Friday night at Barclays Center.

The bench scored 63 points on the night, compared to 34 points from the starters. Brooklyn trailed by 19 in the third quarter, when Kenny Atkinson inserted Spencer Dinwiddie, Joe Harris, Sean Kilpatrick and even Quincy Acy into the game.

“I thought our bench was great, really all night even,” Kenny Atkinson said. “They dug us out of a hole from the first quarter. Luis (Scola) gave us a boost, Trevor (Booker), Quincy Acy, I thought Sean (Kilpatrick) was good. Good job off the bench. That really kept us in the game, kept us in the mix until the end.”

The bench did play well, but it wasn’t enough.

Suddenly, the 19-point deficit was down to six entering the fourth, soon taken over with their first lead of the night at the 7:37 mark of the fourth quarter, 87-85. After that, the Nets missed seven of their next eight shots, and the Pacers answered with an 11-4 run over the next five minutes.

The score was, 96-93, Pacers, two minutes left.

Here’s how the Nets closed it out:

· Allowed 10 points

· Scored four points on 2-of-6 shooting

· Two turnovers

Folks, late-game execution has been a problem all year. There’s been nobody to step up in the big moment. They were outscored 21-10 in the final 7:37 of the game. It’s not how you start, but how you finish.

“I just think our decision making can be — we need to improve, Kenny Atkinson said after the loss. I feel like a lot of transition, decision making, making a simpler play, getting our spacing a little better.”

Here’s how it went down…

In the first half, the Nets shot 39 percent and committed 10 turnovers, which led to 13 points for the opposition. Against a tought team like Indiana, that’s simply unacceptable. The offense was stagnant and the three ball wasn’t falling at an efficient rate (5-of-15). Brook Lopez played well with 10 points, but a 15-point half from Paul George overshadowed his effort.

But hey, they were within striking distance and that’s all that mattered.

And that was, as usual, until the second half started. The Pacers started the half on an 11-0 run and took their largest lead of the night at 19 (67-48).

Still, behind the lead of Spencer Dinwiddie and Joe Harris, the Nets stayed persistent and cut the 19-point deficit down to six entering the fourth quarter. The two combined for 11 of Brooklyn’s 28 points in the third quarter.

The bench anchored a huge comeback. Behind a gritty effort from the reserves, the Nets cut the 19-point deficit down and took a two-point lead with 7:37 left in the fourth. It didn’t last very long.

The Pacers finished on a 21-10 run from that point on and won by a 9-point margin.

Brooklyn’s Brothers didn’t play too well. The three combined to shoot 2-of-14 from the floor with only 4 points. LeVert was a minus-25, Whitehead a minus-13 and Hollis-Jefferson a minus-19.

Brook Lopez was actually the only starter in double digits with 23 points and six rebounds on 9-of-18 shooting. Off the bench, Joe Harris (15 points), Spencer Dinwiddie (13 points) and Sean Kilpatrick (18 points) impressed. The bench scored 63 points on the night compared to xx points from the starters.

Paul George led the Pacers with 24 points, 11 rebounds, three blocked shots and two steals. Indiana went onto shoot 43 percent and forced 19-Brooklyn turnovers. The Nets shot 37 percent.

LOPEZ ON NETS CHANGING THE LINEUPS:

“It’s tough to adjust to getting used to having to be ready and up immediately once we jump ball or vice versa coming off the bench and not necessarily knowing when your time is going to be. You just have to stay prepared whenever it is and be ready for your opportunity.”

TAKE A BREATHER, BOGIE

For the first time in 50 games this season, Bojan Bogdanovic sat out to rest. In his first two seasons, he missed just seven games and only three were due to injury. Say what you’d like about him, but he’s been extremely durable during his time here. “He’s had one heck of a run since the Olympics,” Kenny Atkinson said before the game.

For post-game audio, click HERE.

Next up: Raptors this Sunday.