Nets rally but fall short against undefeated Pacers

Alan Anderson of the Nets blocks a first-quarter Alan Anderson of the Nets blocks a first-quarter shot from Indiana Pacers forward Paul George. (Nov. 9, 2013) Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

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These days, the Nets are like a mini-version of the Cyclone, Coney Island's signature ride.

They treat you to a big thrill on the uphill climb, evoking a strong anticipation as the car heads toward the massive first drop. But once it's over and the roller coaster pulls into the loading area, you're left a little unfulfilled, almost begging for more.

Exhibit Z? Take Saturday night's game against the Pacers.

Joe Johnson's potential score-tying three-point shot with 11.8 seconds remaining bounced off the back of the rim and David West sank two free throws with 9.5 seconds left to seal the Nets' 96-91 loss to the Pacers (7-0) at Barclays Center.

After an offseason that created big expectations, the Nets (2-4) are mired in mediocrity through the season's first two weeks. They are beating themselves with careless turnovers, failed possessions and unacceptable defense.

"It's frustrating," Kevin Garnett said. "But I don't think you put a timetable on something that you are trying to get to perfection. I don't know if you can even put a timetable on something like that. Although you try to cut down on mistakes and you try to form chemistry and you try to be consistent, I don't think a timetable is something you can put on that . . . But it is frustrating."

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Johnson had the hot hand for the Nets, which is why coach Jason Kidd drew up a play for him on the Nets' biggest possession. With the Pacers leading 94-91, Johnson bounced a three-point try off the back rim with just under 12 seconds left. "It was a great look," he said. "It felt good. It just didn't go down. We definitely needed it that time."

Johnson had 17 points, as did Deron Williams, who added 10 assists. But the Nets' point guard also had a pair of bad plays down the stretch. He crashed into George Hill on Hill's three-point attempt with 2:51 to play, leading to Hill draining two free throws for a 92-87 edge. Williams also committed a critical turnover with 1:06 left and the Nets trailing by three.

"That was a stupid foul," Williams said, "and then the turnover definitely cost us."

Roy Hibbert got the better of Brook Lopez in the battle of the big men. Hibbert had 15 points, including some uncontested jumpers and a hook shot with such touch that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar would have given him a nod of approval. Hibbert added 11 rebounds.