Pacers’ offense hopes to pick on Nets’ woeful defense

Sports

The Indiana Pacers had two days to review what went wrong with their offense against an elite Western Conference foe.

The Brooklyn Nets will not get much time to rehash their defensive issues against one of the NBA’s worst teams.

Coming off their least productive game of the season, the Pacers hope to halt a three-game losing streak Wednesday night when they visit the Nets, who also are on a three-game skid and hoping to correct a myriad of defensive woes.

Indiana produced one of its better defensive showings of the season Sunday in a 103-95 loss to the Jazz. Utah’s point total was the fourth fewest allowed by the Pacers this season. The better defensive showing came after the Pacers allowed at least 110 points in eight of their previous 11 games, but it was negated by an offense that produced a season low in points and shot a season-low 39.8 percent.

The Sunday defeat is part of a 6-10 slide since Jan. 9 after the Pacers opened the season with six wins in the first eight games.

Domantas Sabonis led Indiana with 20 points against the Jazz but shot 7 of 19. He is shooting 31.2 percent (10 of 32) in his past two games after consecutive games with at least 30 points.

“We’re obviously a little frustrated with the last four or five games,” Indiana’s Doug McDermott said. “It hasn’t gone the way we wanted them to go, but we also know what we’re capable of, how we started this year. We know we have enough in that locker room to win games.”

Brooklyn is experiencing similar frustration as Indiana, but its three-game losing streak is magnified because of the star power of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden and a porous defense. The Nets are 7-6 since acquiring Harden on Jan. 14 but the Big Three have played only six games together.

The trio was not together Tuesday in the Nets’ 122-111 road loss to the Detroit Pistons because Durant is out until at least Saturday due to the NBA’s COVID-19 protocols. He was allowed to play 19 minutes as a reserve Friday, then was pulled in the third quarter of Brooklyn’s 123-117 loss to the Toronto Raptors.

The Nets are 3-5 when Durant does not play.

Without Durant for the second straight game, the Nets allowed the Pistons to shoot 56 percent from the floor. Brooklyn trailed by as many as 20 points on a night when Irving scored 27 points and Harden added 24. It was the 14th time Brooklyn allowed at least 120 points and the eighth instance when the Nets allowed the opponent to make at least half of its field-goal attempts.

“We look very average, and we have the talent that the eye test presents, that we should be dominating,” Irving said. “We’re dealing with a lot of the reality that we’re putting this together on the fly.”

Offense is not the problem for the Nets as they have scored at least 110 points in all but four games and shot at least 50 percent 13 times. Brooklyn is allowing 118.4 points per game, the second-worst mark in the league.

“It’s up to the team to decide what type of team they want to be, what they want to get out of this experience,” Nets coach Steve Nash said. “I think our team needs to challenge themselves and figure out who they want to represent together.”

Indiana has won on each of its past six trips to Brooklyn and owns 11 victories in its past 14 meetings with the Nets overall.

–Field Level Media

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