INDIANAPOLIS -- The Brooklyn Nets aren't just going to hand the third seed over to the Indiana Pacers.? The Pacers will have to earn it.? The Nets built a 24-point lead before holding the Pacers off 117-109 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Friday.
"It's hard to play much better than we did in the first half," Nets coach P.J. Carlesimo said. "We were ready to play. We were so good offensively, Deron (Williams) in particular."?
Williams had 33 points and 14 assists and Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez added 24 points each for the Nets, who swept the season series. Brooklyn picked apart one of the league's best defenses by shooting 51 percent.
? The Pacers were led by power forward David West's 26 points and Paul George's 21 points. The Pacers weren't bad offensively, shooting 50 percent.
"We just haven't been sharp enough defensively," West said. "We have to take a little more pride in guarding our guys individually and relying on help."?
The Pacers still have a two-game lead over Brooklyn for the third seeding the East, but they play their next two games on the road - at New York and Boston. The Nets finish up against lottery-bound teams Toronto, Washington and Detroit.
"They're in front of us in the standings and there's a chance we can catch them," Williams said. "The best way we can do that is to try to beat them. We gained a full game on them. This is a playoff team that we have struggled against, one of the top tier teams, so especially on the road this was a good one for us."?
The Pacers took a 101-99 lead on a Lance Stephenson 3-pointer with 4:28 left in the game. The Nets ran off five straight points before the Pacers tied the score at 104-104 on a George 3-pointer, but then Brooklyn then off seven straight points to put the game away.
"I'm proud of the will and resolve to fight back in the game," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. "Clearly, we have to have a sense of urgency at the start of the game, we talked about it. We are battling back but we have to play with that sense of urgency in the first quarter."?
The Pacers ran into a similar problem against the Cleveland Cavaliers earlier this week.? They came out flat and the Nets jumped all over them.
Well, Lopez and Williams did.
Lopez got the Nets going by making his first six shot attempts and scoring 14 points to go with two blocks in the first quarter when they scored 34 points and led by seven at the end of the period. Then it was Williams' turn in the second quarter. He scored 20 of his 33 points in the second quarter by scoring any way he wanted against George Hill and Lance Stephenson. At one point, Hill just stood there with his hand in the air after Williams made the third of his four 3-pointers in the second quarter.
Williams' hot shooting helped Brooklyn lead by as many as 21 points in the quarter.
The Pacers shot 50 percent and outscored the Nets by 12 in the third quarter to get to within seven heading into the final period.
"We moved the ball around really well, but we knew that the Pacers would make a run, but nothing like that," Carlesimo said. "We lost our composure in the third quarter. We didn't get into our sets and made some poor turnovers."?
NOTES: Vogel was surprised when told he leads all coaches in the league with nine technicals on the season. He was ejected for the first time this season against Cleveland earlier this week. "Do I really?" Vogel said. The Pacers players were just as surprised. "Really? That's pretty surprising," West said. "He's usually mild mannered. He's feisty, but doesn't say much." ... The Pacers front office doesn't plan to add a player to the roster prior to the playoffs. They've already got the maximum of 15 players under contract, so they would have to release a player to add one. ... Nets forward Gerald Wallace missed the game with a lower left leg contusion. ... Pacers center Ian Mahinmi (sickness) and George Hill (groin) were both in the lineup after missing practice Thursday.