INDIANAPOLIS — Brook Lopez hears the message loud and clear from Brooklyn Nets coach Lionel Hollins.
Time is running out to land a spot in next month’s playoffs. “We’re running out of games, so they’re all important,” Hollins said. “You want to win every game.”
Lopez had 26 points and four blocked shots to lead Brooklyn to a 123-111 victory over the slumping Indiana Pacers on March 21.
The Nets, who have won four of five, are trying to take full advantage of their opportunities to get into the postseason — even if that means finding enough energy to push through for a 129-127 triple-overtime win March 20 against Milwaukee and then playing a road game the following night.
“I think we came out the way we knew we needed to,” Lopez said. “We all came out and tried to be aggressive. When the other team made a run, we responded.”
Bojan Bogdanovic had 21 points and five rebounds off the bench, and Deron Williams scored 17 for the Nets.
George Hill had 18 points and nine assists, and Luis Scola and Solomon Hill each finished with 17 points for the Pacers (30-39), who lost their fifth straight.
Lopez scored the go-ahead basket with 1.5 seconds remaining in the third quarter to give the Nets an 88-87 lead.
Brooklyn pulled away for good when Joe Johnson converted a three-point play and Bogdanovic made a 3-pointer to put the Nets ahead 109-100 with 4 minutes remaining.
“You don’t want to be fighting uphill when you’re playing these high-powered offensive teams,” Hill said. “It’s tough when you see guys making shots like they were making them.”
The Nets (29-39) used an 11-0 run in the second half to take the lead — much different from Indiana’s 110-85 romp in Brooklyn on Dec. 27.
But this time, the stakes were higher. A win for the Pacers would have put them in sole possession of eighth place in the Eastern Conference.
Instead, the Nets closed the gap in a crowded race for the final playoff spot.
After Lopez scored to give the Nets the lead, Bogdanovic hit a 3-pointer and another basket, and Alan Anderson made a layup to give Brooklyn a 96-87 advantage with 9:54 left.
“We controlled the game from the first minute to the last minute,” Bogdanovic said. “We’re going to have to continue to do stuff if we’re going to make the playoffs.”
The Pacers went on a 9-1 run of their own in the fourth.
Scola converted a three-point play to bring the Pacers within a point with 8:04 remaining, but the Nets then managed to pull away.
Source: The National Herald