INDIANAPOLIS — For better than three quarters Friday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, their roles were reversed.
The Nets, one of the NBA’s worst teams, were taking it to one of the league’s best in the Pacers. The Nets, dead last in the league in three-point shooting, were drilling them from beyond the arc. Indiana, second-best from long distance, was bricking from deep.
But as has been their Achilles’ heel this season, the Nets failed to put together a complete 48-minute effort. Late miscues resulted in a missed opportunity to steal a quality road win — one this team desperately needed — and it ended up a 104-97 loss to the Pacers.
The Nets (7-19) went ahead 79-72 early in the fourth quarter when Wayne Ellington went the length of the court and threw down a one-handed dunk. At that point, they had committed only six turnovers, but the Pacers clawed their way back in it.
“We played extremely well for three quarters, executing and getting what we wanted,” Nets coach Lionel Hollins said. “I thought, in the fourth quarter, we got into stagnation, isolation and turned the ball over.”
Indiana (16-9) put together a 17-6 run spurred not by superstar and MVP candidate Paul George but center Jordan Hill. He played the entire quarter, scoring 10 of his 14 points to go with 11 rebounds.
With the Nets keying on George (23 points, 10 rebounds) in the fourth quarter, guard Monta Ellis used his quickness to penetrate and kick to Hill and the rest of the Pacers’ shooters for open looks.
The Nets did themselves no favors, committing six turnovers down the stretch, many of them unforced. With his team trailing 91-86, Jarrett Jack (26 points, nine rebounds, six assists, three turnovers) sailed a pass into the front row on the other side of the court. Ellis made the Nets pay, finding a cutting Hill for a layup. With the Nets trailing 98-90, Joe Johnson threw the ball away and Hill followed with a dunk on an assist from George.
“We committed a lot of unforced turnovers,” said Nets center Brook Lopez, who played with five fouls late and finished with 18 points and five rebounds. “I think there were times when we were looking to move the ball. It just didn’t happen the way we envisioned it. People were on a different page.”
The Nets are 1-12 on the road.
“We just want to get consistent,” Lopez said. “We’re not going to quit . . . We see ourselves doing great things at times, but it’s a 48-minute game and it’s a lot of the same stuff.”
Notes & quotes: Thaddeus Young recorded his 13th double-double of the season with 14 points and 14 rebounds. It was his 12th in the past 17 games. Young had three all of last season . . . Thomas Robinson (illness) did not travel with the team . . . Shane Larkin (concussion) also stayed behind. Former Pacer Donald Sloan played his most minutes of the season in place of Larkin, finishing with six points, six rebounds and three assists.