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Nets defeat Pacers to jump back into eighth playoff spot

Joe Johnson of the Brooklyn Nets celebrates with

Joe Johnson of the Brooklyn Nets celebrates with teammates Brook Lopez and Jarrett Jack after hitting a three-point shot late in a game against the Indiana Pacers at Barclays Center on Tuesday, March 31, 2015. Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

Prosperity and the Nets simply just don't mesh together all that easily.

It's been that way all season, seemingly whenever they've searched for an elusive fourth straight win. They've had only four chances to do that this season, the latest opportunity coming Tueday night in a pivotal matchup with the Pacers.

So when they blew a 19-point second-quarter lead and found themselves staring at a four-point deficit in the third quarter, there was a sense of "here we go again" wafting through Barclays Center. Joe Johnson wasn't down with any of that thinking, though.

Johnson hit two huge buckets in the closing minutes, keying the Nets' final surge to a 111-106 win over Indiana.

Brook Lopez had 24 points, 11 rebounds and a pair of blocks, and Johnson added 21 points, six rebounds and four assists for the Nets (33-40), who moved into sole possession of eighth place in the Eastern Conference. Alan Anderson scored 20 points off the bench.

George Hill led the Pacers (32-42) with 28 points and six assists.

Indiana clawed within three on Hill's reverse layup with 2:36 remaining, but that just set the stage for Johnson. He sank an 18-foot step-back jumper off an isolation play to catapult the Nets to a 105-100 edge and nailed a three-pointer with the shot clock set to expire on Brooklyn's ensuing possession for an eight-point advantage as the Nets captured the season series with the Pacers, 2-1.

The Nets hit 15 of their initial 24 shots and led the Pacers 33-15 at the end of the first quarter. They were moving well without the ball, not hesitating at all to find the open man, and Lopez and Williams had the two-man game going. Lopez had 14 points on 10 shots in the opening quarter and Williams' eight points and five assists helped set the tone.

But, oh how it changed in the second quarter.

All the things that spurred the Nets to that big advantage ceased, particularly when Nets coach Lionel Hollins went to his bench and called on the second unit. The ball movement vanished, replaced by head-scratching one-on-one play. They stopped going inside, relying on perimeter jumpers too much. Scrappy defense gave way to a recreation league-type effort.

Indiana drained 14 of 21 attempts in the second quarter, fueling a 39-point explosion that propelled them to three separate leads in the final 2:08.

Knowing they couldn't completely plant their foot on the Pacers' necks and allowing them to climb into it so rapidly certainly had the Nets doubting themselves. But despite coughing up such a hefty double-digit bulge, at least they mustered enough offense to retake the lead heading into the half, which had to be somewhat of a mental boost.

Markel Brown's three-pointer and Lopez's 9-foot jump hook in the lane turned a two-point deficit into a 57-54 lead, capping off a half in which they 52.5 percent from the floor overall and 55.6 percent beyond the three-point arc, and assisted on all but five of their 21 field goals.

Notes & quotes: Hollins isn't a big fan of this latest trend of keeping extra close tabs on a player's minutes and giving them extra rest. He only has one focus and it has nothing to do with minutes. "My motto is, 'We get this win first.' Simple as that . . . But I don't try to manage minutes and it's just surprising to me that it's become a huge thing in our league. I can't speak on why coaches do it. I don't know why they do it. I don't know why players would want to do it. I want to play every game and I want to play all the minutes."


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