Nets Outpace Indiana to keep playoff push going

The Nets beat the Indiana Pacers 111-106 on Tuesday night at Barclays Center for their seventh victory in their last eight games. The Nets improve to 33-40, and are once again a half-game ahead of the idle Boston Celtics, who are 33-41, for eighth place in the Eastern Conference.

The Nets were once again led by Brook Lopez, who received Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors on Monday. Lopez had a double-double with 24 points on 11-for-17 from the field, and 11 rebounds. Lopez said of what his big scoring in recent games can be attributed to, “I think the ball has just been moving really freely the past number of games. You can see everyone is really comfortable on the court, and we have been gelling and playing well together.”

Joe Johnson had 21 points on 6-for-13 from the field, 3-6 on threes, with 6 rebounds and 4 assists. Joe Johnson made his 1,700th career three-pointer, becoming the 13th player in NBA history to reach that number. Alan Anderson had a big night off the bench, with 20 points on 7-for-11 shooting, 3-for-4 from behind the arc, 2 rebounds, and an assist. This was the second time this season that three Nets scored 20 or more points, and the first in regulation (the other was the three-OT win over Milwaukee on March 20th).

Jarrett Jack had 13 points, 4 assists, and a rebound. Deron Williams had 11 points, 8 assists, and 6 rebounds. Markel Brown chipped in 10 points, 5 rebounds, and an assist.

The first half of this game was one of streaks, as Indiana jumped out to a 7-0 lead, then the Nets countered with a 39-13 run to take a 39-20 lead on a Markel Brown jumper at the 10:15 mark of the second quarter. Indiana, led by C.J. Watson, countered with a 34-18 run to cut the Nets’ lead to three, 57-54 at halftime.

The Nets were trailing 68-65 halfway through the third when they went on a 9-2 run capped by a Joe Johnson three to take a 74-70 lead at the 3:17 mark. That started a streak in which Johnson scored nine of the Nets’ final 11 points in the third to take an 84-79 lead into the fourth.

The fourth belonged to the Nets, as they would open a 12-point lead on a couple of baskets from Thaddeus Young to make it 97-85 with 5:32 left in the game. Indiana was not done, however, as they countered with a 10-3 run capped by a three-point play from David West to make it 100-95 Nets with 3:58 left. Indiana pulled to within three, at 103-100, on a George Hill layup with 2:11 left. The Nets would hold them scoreless for the next two minutes, and in that span, Joe Johnson got a jumper and a three to make it 108-100 with 15.4 seconds left and seal the win.

Lopez said of Johnson draining that three with 15.4 seconds left, “Joe had to throw it back to me and I saw two come my way, and if there is one guy you want open at the end of the game, that is the guy, and they left him open.”

Lopez said of the momentum swings throughout the game, “It was fantastic. We played a great pace. D-Will was leading us out there, getting everyone great looks and just running us. They made that run – 39 points in that second quarter – that is tough for us. But we came back out in the second half and regardless of how we played offensively, we continued to get stops throughout the majority of the half and that sealed the game for us.”

Anderson said of the Nets seeing this win coming tonight, “As of late, we have been playing really well, even though we have lost a couple of games. We still have been playing really well. We are playing together, we are playing hard on defense, sharing the ball and getting after it.”

Anderson said of players coming off the bench and having big games, “Anything extra on any team is always a plus, especially coming off the bench. You just try to bring energy first and foremost, but then when the energy comes into points and loose balls and things like that, it is always a plus.”

On if the Nets are peaking at the right time, Anderson said, “Definitely. Definitely, like I said, we hold our destiny in our hands, so it is up to us. We have, I think, nine games now. We control that so we just have to take it game by game. We have a tough one tomorrow on the road against the Knicks and we just have to go from there.”

Indiana Head Coach Frank Vogel said of the loss, “Move on. Game’s over. We have a game tomorrow night (in Boston). There’s plenty of basketball still to be played. We’ve got to move on right away.”

On Indiana battling back from a big deficit, “A lot of guts. A lot of heart. We had some guys who are banged up and out. We were missing two of our key wings. Rodney Stuckey tried to play but was clearly not himself. I just saw a lot of guys step up and do the best they can.”


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