INDIANAPOLIS -- There was a noticeable look in their eyes, a determined vibe, as they took the Bankers Life Fieldhouse court Saturday night.
The Nets surely wanted to prove they could hang with the Pacers much better than they did Monday, when Indiana blew them out in Brooklyn. Jason Kidd even used his 14th different starting lineup of the season, inserting Mirza Teletovic at power forward and putting Paul Pierce on the first unit, all so they'd match up better size-wise.
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But there's a reason the Pacers (24-5) are atop the Eastern Conference.
Indiana used an early third-quarter spurt to build on a two-point halftime lead and beat the Nets, 105-91, quickly dousing any good vibes they might have had after beating the Bucks 24 hours earlier.
So the Nets (10-20), who couldn't overcome their usual third-quarter struggles, began their three-game, six-day road trip with a rough start. It won't get any easier with stops in San Antonio on Tuesday and Oklahoma City on Thursday.
"Again, the third quarter for us, coming out of the locker room," Nets coach Jason Kidd said. "We knew Indiana is the best with the third quarters they've had. They've played from behind and they always look at the third quarter for them to gain the lead. And they took control in the third quarter with our turnovers and those turnovers converting into layups."
Here are the third-quarter particulars: The Nets were outscored 28-20, with the Pacers shooting 68.8 percent from the floor. Indiana had 14 points in the paint on 10 shots, a rebounding edge of 9-4 and nine points on four Nets turnovers, all of which resulted in an 86-76 Pacers lead heading into the fourth quarter.
"The third quarter, we know they are a great third-quarter team and we just turned the ball over a little bit too much at the start of the third and it was able to ignite their transition," said Pierce, who paced the Nets with 18 points. "They got easy baskets and we dug ourselves a hole against the team with the best home record in the league [14-1] . . . You almost have to be flawless. And when you come out sloppy with the ball in the third quarter like we did, couldn't get any shots up, turned the ball over, it's tough to come back from that."
At least Pierce regained his stroke, shooting 8-for-14 from the floor. Teletovic also got it going offensively after a slow start, pumping in 17 points and shooting 7-for-13. But other than Alan Anderson's 10 points off the bench, the Nets didn't get much production from anyone else, with Deron Williams and Joe Johnson most notably not exerting their will. The Nets' starting backcourt totaled 23 points and shot 10-for-23, going 2-for-9 from beyond the arc.
The Pacers, who were led by Paul George's 24 points, had all five starters reach double figures.
"That's been our season, is one or two guys are going and we can't get the others to join," Kidd said. "And so we've got to find a way to get everybody on the same page in a sense of playing at that same level. Paul was going and he just needed someone to join him."
Instead, it was the latest example of how the Nets just aren't as good as they had been advertised.
"It's tough," Williams said. "We feel like we can play with these teams. It's just whatever reason -- the third quarter, second quarter, whatever it is -- it's just like we have a bad quarter and we can't recover."