Fool me once, shame on you. But fool me twice? The Nets didn’t find out how that age-old adage ends.
At least not this time.
The Nets snapped a four-game losing streak with a 116-109 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Halloween evening. It was a much needed, get-right win after the Pacers thoroughly embarrassed the Nets in Saturday’s nine-point loss.
“We’ve got to keep fighting. That’s the biggest thing,” head coach Steve Nash said before the game. “We can’t take our foot off the gas. I think we did last time out and we’ve got to resist the urge to not have that winning mentality, to be willing to go that extra step for each other.”
And it was a win that was met with a standing ovation from a Barclays Center crowd desperate for a quality performance from what has the potential to be a quality late-season team if they can put it all together.
The victory — Brooklyn’s second of the season against five early losses — didn’t come without drama: The Nets ran up a 24-point first-half lead that evaporated by the fourth quarter. It became a two possession game down the stretch after the Pacers knocked down a flurry of threes.
In fact, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving each missed critical threes down the stretch, to which the Pacers responded with baskets that kept the game close. In the end, Irving iced the game with a floater and Durant put it out of reach with a pair of free throws.
Durant finished with 36 points on 13-of-22 shooting from the field to go with nine rebounds and seven assists. As part of his night, he surpassed Vince Carter for 19th place on the NBA’s all-time leading scoring list. Next up for Durant is Kevin Garnett. Garnett’s spot is at risk with less than 300 points of separation from Durant, who is averaging more than 32 points per game to start the season.
Indiana shot 0-of-12 from downtown in the first period, then proceeded to light it up from deep for the rest of the night. It looked like more of the same from a Pacers team two nights removed from tying the Nets’ all-time record for opponent threes made.
Irving finished with 28 points on 9-of-19 shooting from the field, and starting center Nic Claxton had 19 points, nine rebounds, four assists and four blocks.
A group of fans were seen courtside wearing shirts that said “Fight Antisemitism” during the game on Monday night. The fans sat in the Barclays Center with the shirts two days after Irving was questioned about a tweet that shared a documentary filled with antisemtic messages.
Sharpshooter Joe Harris started in place of Ben Simmons (left knee soreness) and finished with seven points and three steals to go with some scrappy individual defense.
“He just has a sore knee. That’s all I know really,” Nash said of Simmons. “Tomorrow, we’ll have to monitor and see how he is but tonight he’s out and we’ll see how the knee is tomorrow and if he’s able to go.”
The Pacers got 30 from guard Chris Duarte and 22 from wing Buddy Hield but only shot 11-of-39 from downtown.
And now the Nets are off to the races, shaking the proverbial monkey off their back with a victory against an opponent they were supposed to beat. They face a tough task in the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday in the second game of a back-to-back, but the hope is Simmons and maybe even Seth Curry (ankle surgery maintenance) will return to the rotation. Curry also missed Monday’s matchup.