INDIANAPOLIS — For the Nets to turn the corner, they must win the games that are there for the taking.
They didn’t Saturday night. The Nets built a 16-point halftime lead but lost to the Pacers in overtime, 123-119.
Like the Wizards, whom the Nets beat by 35 on Friday night, Indiana is in the thick of the playoff chase while the Nets remain on the outside looking in.
“We’re looking for more,” Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said. “We need to make that next step where we’re coming away with the [win] in this game. I’m proud of the guys. I thought they fought. We did a lot of good things out there, played a lot of different lineups, but it just sticks in your craw a little bit that we couldn’t pull it out.”
The Pacers built a nine-point fourth-quarter lead before the Nets charged back to force OT.
The Nets took their final timeout with 21.8 seconds left in regulation and the Pacers up 111-108. After DeMarre Carroll found Spencer Dinwiddie with the inbounds pass, he did well to get his body into Pacers guard Cory Joseph on a three-point try and draw the quick foul. He sank all three free throws to tie the score at 111 with 19.9 seconds left.
Dinwiddie, who led the Nets with a career-high 26 points along with eight assists, had a chance to put the Nets ahead in overtime but missed a three-point try with four seconds left.
“We got the matchup we wanted with [Pacers forward Bojan Bogdanovic] on him,” Atkinson said. “You could argue for him to drive to the rim or pull up for the three, but Spencer had it going. He had a decent look.”
Pacers guard Victor Oladipo continued his breakout season with 38 points, including seven of Indiana’s 12 in the extra session. Fans chanted “M-V-P!” in the waning seconds with Oladipo at the line. The Pacers (19-14) improved to 3-0 this season against the Nets (12-20).
“He’s playing elite, elite basketball,” Atkinson said of Oladipo, who is averaging 25.3 points per game. “He’s one of the best players in the league right now. He’s hurt us every game. We have not found a solution to stop him.”
The Nets shot 52.4 percent in the first half, including 9-for-18 from three-point range. Dinwiddie sank his first four shots — all threes — but hit only four of his next 16. He was 5-for-11 on threes.
The Nets cooled collectively, finishing the game shooting 42.9 percent from the field. Carroll had 20 points and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson added 18.
Myles Turner disrupted the Nets’ interior offense, blocking six shots to go with his 23 points and nine rebounds.
The Nets hit five of their first six shots and led 28-21 after the first period. They held a 57-41 advantage at the half.
The Pacers opened the second half by attacking with their transition offense to score three quick baskets. Darren Collison’s three gave the Pacers a 69-68 lead with 3:21 left in the third.
“To have a chance to win at the end and on the road, good effort overall,” Atkinson said. “Obviously, we didn’t deal with their physicality to start that third quarter. To me, that’s where the game changed. I thought they really came out and got into us. They started to make shots and we couldn’t stop them. They were the more aggressive team.”