NEW YORK -- The Brooklyn Nets are no longer perfect at home. Meanwhile, the Indiana Pacers remain perfect overall. The Nets dropped to 2-1 at Barclays Center after losing to the undefeated Pacers 96-91 Saturday night in front of a sellout crowd.
WHAT IT MEANS: The Nets (2-4) aren't just chasing the two-time defending champion Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference this season; Indiana is pretty darn good, too. The Pacers want the No. 1 seed in the East -- and they're playing that way. The Pacers (7-0) used their physicality and athleticism to get past the Nets. The NBA's best defensive team in terms of efficiency allowed Brooklyn to shoot 46.1 percent but came up with several key stands in the fourth quarter. Paul George played like an emerging superstar, torching the Nets for 24 points and 6 rebounds.
COMING UP SHORT: The Nets, who trailed by as many as 10 in the fourth, used a 7-0 run to get within 90-87. But Brook Lopez missed a layup inside, and George Hill was fouled by Deron Williams shooting a 3-pointer at other end. Hill made 2 of 3 free throw attempts. And George would hit a jumper off an ensuing jump ball to make it a four-point possession and a 94-87 game. It was 94-91 when Williams got his pocket picked in the corner with 1:06 left. Joe Johnson missed a game-tying 3-pointer with 11 seconds remaining.
THE GOOD AND THE BAD: Williams scored a season-high 17 points in a season-high 32 minutes, while Johnson added 17 points on 6-for-10 shooting and Paul Pierce chipped in 15 points. But Lopez (16 points, 7 rebounds) lost the battle inside against his nemesis Roy Hibbert (15 points, 11 rebounds), who is now 10-4 in his career against Lopez. Jason Terry (0-for-4) was ineffective in 16 minutes. The Nets were called for four illegal screens, a point of emphasis for the league.
THE BIG TICKET: Kevin Garnett did, in fact, play in both games of the Nets' first back-to-back set. In 28 minutes, he managed 6 points and 8 rebounds. He even shot 3-for-7 from the floor -- including a thunderous putback slam early in the fourth quarter. But he missed a layup in the final minute. KG came in shooting just 30.4 percent from the field.
PLUM SITUATION: Rookie Mason Plumlee gave the Nets some huge production off the bench, scoring a season-high 6 points and grabbing 3 rebounds in 16 minutes. Plumlee replaced Reggie Evans in the rotation.
UP NEXT: The Nets will not play again until Wednesday night, when they begin a three-game West Coast road trip in Sacramento. They will get Sunday off before resuming practice Monday and Tuesday.