Despite a coaching change, despite Ben Simmons rounding to form, despite another MVP-level effort from Kevin Durant, and despite Kyrie Irving’s return, the Brooklyn Nets still fell for the second time this season to a young Indiana Pacers team.
This year’s sixth overall pick, Ben Mathurin, led a mammoth 17-point turnaround in the fourth quarter as the Pacers came from behind to beat the Nets anew, 128-117 win on Black Friday.
The Nets had no answer to Mathurin in the final 12 minutes as the rookie poured 16 of his 20 points off the bench. Mathurin’s three-pointer with 8:53 left gave the Pacers a 99-96 lead, their first since the opening quarter, and it went downhill from there for the Nets.
Four Pacers scored in double figures, led by Buddy Hield’s 26 points. Myles Turner chipped in 23 points and eight rebounds, while Tyrese Haliburton had 21 points and a game-high 15 assists.
Irving, who had 20 points for the Nets, waxed poetic about the changing of the guards.
“The game of basketball is becoming a multidimensional type of performance out thereYoung guys are coming at us older guys every single night and they’re running at a very quick pace, threes are going up left and right. Even if you look at the Philly game, I think we shot around 60% and we held them to lower than 45%, but they had a lot more threes and a lot more opportunities on the offensive glass and they were just creating more momentum.
So I think the game is becoming a lot younger, more athletic. Guys are getting to the three-point line, and us as quote-unquote ‘guys with 10-plus years in this league,’ we’ve got to keep up and make sure we’re playing our style of basketball, which is everyone’s touching it and everyone has the ability to score or to be aggressive.”Kyrie Irving via NY Daily News
The 22-year-old Haliburton is the head of the Pacers’ snake, while the 20-year-old Mathurin is vying to become the first Rookie of the Year and Sixth Man of the Year in NBA history.
Their exploits immensely helped the Pacers upset the Nets despite getting 36 points from 34-year-old Durant.
Simmons continued his strong showing with 22 points on a perfect 8 for 8 shooting but still was not enough for the Nets, who continued to miss bench sparkplug Yuta Watanabe.
The Nets’ Japanese forward, who leads the league in three-point percentage, is scheduled to be re-evaluated this weekend. His status for their home game against the Portland Trail Blazers Sunday night remains unclear.
Brooklyn has been plagued with inconsistency lately, alternating wins and losses in their last four games. What’s more concerning is they lose winnable games against teams with missing key players or are in the rebuilding phase.
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