INDIANAPOLIS (AP)Brooklyn Nets coach Jacque Vaughn mixed up his lineup and his defenses Saturday night – and the nine players in uniform responded.
Cam Thomas scored a career-high 33 points, Patty Mills added 24 and the Brooklyn Nets rallied to beat the Indiana Pacers 136-133 despite sitting their top seven scorers.
”There was no hesitation, we came here to win,” Vaughn said. ”When you believe you can win the game, it goes a long way.”
Virtually nobody gave the Nets a shot after team officials announced eight players including All-Stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving would sit out. None of the starters from Friday night’s victory over Atlanta even suited up.
Yet somehow, Brooklyn managed to stay close for 3 1/12 quarters before Thomas and Mills helped turn the game late to give Brooklyn its third straight win and six victories in seven games.
The Nets won this one by dominating the middle. Brooklyn had a 59-30 rebounding advantage, a 29-7 edge in offensive rebounds and 37 second-chance points. Day’ron Sharpe had 20 points and 12 rebounds.
”We just played very poorly and for one of the first times this year, we just weren’t together for 48 minutes,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. ”It felt like things were in the right place, but these guys kept coming and it’s a great win for them and a tough loss for us.”
The Pacers were led by Tyrese Haliburtonwith 35 points, the most since he joined the Pacers in February, and nine assists. Six of histeammates also scored in double figures as they made 21 3s – two short of breaking the franchise’s single-game record, set against Brooklyn in October.
But it was the one they missed at the buzzer, from Andrew Nembhard, that sealed their fate.
The Pacers appeared to be pulling away when when they extended the lead to 120-113 with 5:04 to play. Instead, the Nets scored six straight to tie it then used an 8-0 run to make it 128-122 with 1:49 left and the Pacers never recovered.
”This is it right here,” Vaughn said. ”It is proof that being a teammate, staying ready and keeping your sills up to date and to be able to still is what it’s all about.”
Nets: Brooklyn played its first road game since losing at Indiana on Nov. 25. … Edmond Sumner had 21 points and five assists against his former team and Markieff Morris chipped in with 15 points and 11 rebounds. … Mills also had six rebounds and six assists. … Yuta Watanabee had 10 points and seven rebounds after returning from a strained right hamstring.
Pacers: Fell to 5-1 on the second half of back-to-back games this season. … Indiana is 1-1 since returning from a seven-game road trip, its longest since 1985-86. … Buddy Hield had 17 points, Myles Turner had 16 and Oshae Brissett finished with 14. … Nembhard had seven assists. The Pacers split the season series 2-2 after getting swept by Brooklyn 3-0 last season.
CAMMING IT UP
Thomas, a second-year player out of LSU, played his most minutes in a month and wound up going 13 of 20 from the floor while making all three of his 3s. His numbers might have been even more impressive – had he not sat out the entire third quarter. But Vaughn insisted he never doubted Thomas would crank it up late.
”I said to him yesterday `You’ll probably get a lot of minutes tonight.’ He did and I trusted him,” Vaughn said. ”I had no thought he wouldn’t bring it in the fourth.”
Nets: At Washington on Monday night.
Pacers: Host Miami on Monday night.
More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/nba and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports