The Nets needed to rebound in more ways than one Sunday night at Barclays Center. They were coming off their worst loss of the season.
But something is missing right now, and the Nets need to find it. They didn’t execute well enough offensively, didn’t defend well, didn’t rebound well and couldn’t keep up with the Pacers after the first quarter in a 109-97 loss, their third straight defeat.
“I just felt like the whole game, well, really the past two games, whatever the ‘it’ is in terms of energy and physicality, it hasn’t been there,” said Kenny Atkinson, who saw his team get crushed by 33 at Toronto on Friday night.
“I thought they were the more physical team, the more energetic team.”
Victor Oladipo continued his breakout season, scoring eight straight points to give Indiana a 14-point lead late in the second quarter. The shooting guard led five Indiana players in double figures with 26 points.
The Pacers (17-13) built a 43-29 edge on the boards and shot 56.6 percent.
Allen Crabbe scored all of his 17 points in the first half for the Nets (11-18). He took only one shot in the second half. What happened?
“I don’t think they did anything differently defensively,” Crabbe said. “I don’t know.”
Spencer Dinwiddie knows what’s missing.
“I just think our compete level isn’t as high as it should be, and that starts with, obviously, the leaders of the group,” he said. “And point guards are one of the leaders. So I have to go out there and compete better.”
Crabbe competed just fine in the first quarter after missing the previous game with left knee soreness. The shooting guard buried his first three attempts from beyond the arc on his way to 14 points in the first 7:18. His three-pointer from 32 feet on the left wing gave the Nets a 19-14 lead.
At the end of the first quarter, they owned a 29-28 lead. It turned out to be their last of the game.
Former Net Bojan Bogdanovic and Cory Joseph each nailed a three-pointer, launching a 19-8 run to open the second quarter that put the Pacers ahead 47-37.
Crabbe buried his fourth three-pointer to bring the Nets within 51-45, but Oladipo dunked, hit a three-pointer and delivered a three-point play to give the Pacers a 59-45 lead. They settled for a 59-48 advantage at the break.
“He’s a guy we’re trying to develop into a franchise player, and he’s come in with a lot of confidence,” Indiana coach Nate McMillan said.
The Nets went on a few second-half runs. When Jarrett Allen dunked and turned it into a three-point play early in the fourth quarter, the deficit was only five.
The Pacers responded with eight straight points to make it 88-75 with 8:46 remaining. The Nets got it to seven with 4:37 left before Indiana took off again, going up by 16.
DeMarre Carroll, who had two points in 22:48, wants the Nets to defend more aggressively.
“We’ve got to come out and do it on the defensive end and not worry too much about offense,” he said.
The Pacers have won their last five games against the Nets. Indiana has won 13 of its last 17 regular-season games against the Nets dating to 2003.