Nets 97 Pacers 86
- Last Updated: 5:31 AM, January 14, 2013
- Posted: 2:06 AM, January 14, 2013
Most of the success the Nets enjoyed during their first two weeks under interim coach P.J. Carlesimo came against teams with losing records.
That’s why last night’s game against the Pacers, who came into the game in third place in the Eastern Conference, presented the Nets with a chance to prove that their recent success wasn’t the product of a soft patch in their schedule.
They didn’t miss their chance.
Thanks to a 17-0 run early in the fourth quarter, the Nets were able to erase what once was a 12-point second-half deficit on their way to a 97-86 victory over the Pacers in front of a crowd of 16,499 at Barclays Center.
The win pushed the Nets’ winning streak to a season-high six games and bumped their record under Carlesimo to 8-1 since he took over for Avery Johnson on Dec. 27.
“This was a big game for us,” said Deron Williams, who finished with 22 points, five rebounds and nine assists despite playing through a right quad contusion. “We had won five in a row, but most of them have come against teams with below .500 records.
“This was a good test for us, a good challenge against a good team, and we came ready and stepped up our game in the fourth quarter.”
It looked as if the Nets (22-15) were in serious jeopardy of failing their test against the Pacers, who came into the game riding a four-game winning streak and having won eight of 10. The Pacers took a six-point lead into the fourth quarter and stretched it to eight when center Ian Mahinmi scored to make it 77-69 with 10:57 remaining.
But the Nets dominated from there at both ends of the floor. Offensively, they went to their strengths, with the combination of Williams (four points and two assists), Joe Johnson (three points, one assist) and Brook Lopez (eight points) contributing 15 of the 17 points during the crucial run.
“That’s what we wanted to do,” said Johnson, who finished with 20 points, five rebounds and three assists. “Come out in that fourth quarter, go to our strengths and make plays.
“Deron was making plays, I was making plays, Brook made some huge plays, so it was great to kind of get it rolling.”
Equally impressive, however, was the Nets’ defensive stand during that run, as they forced the Pacers to go 0-for-6 with a turnover in seven possessions, frustrating them to the point where point guard George Hill and Pacers coach Frank Vogel each picked up technical fouls.
They didn’t stop there, either. The Pacers finished the fourth quarter an abysmal 3-for-22 (13.6 percent) from the field, including 1-for-7 from 3-point range, as the Nets outscored them 28-11 in the final quarter.
“We stepped our defense up,” Williams said. “We talked about it in the huddle. Going into the fourth, we needed to up our defense and be dedicated to getting stops, and that’s what we did.”
After Williams scored 12 first-quarter points to help the Nets jump out to a 27-21 lead, the Pacers (23-15) closed the first half with a 19-9 run led by their imposing frontcourt of Paul George, David West and Roy Hibbert, which combined to score 14 points during the stretch.
Things didn’t get much better early in the third quarter, as the Nets struggled to get their offense going against Indiana’s defense, which entered the game as the league’s best. The Nets opened the quarter 3-for-12 from the field, allowing the Pacers to stretch their lead out to 67-55 after former Net Gerald Green sank a pair of free throws with 5:30 remaining in the quarter.
But the Nets managed to cut that deficit in half by the time the fourth began, setting the stage for the surge that gave them the win.
“We were down, and we hung in,” Carlesimo said. “We beat a really good team, and played well to do that.”Follow @NYPostsports