NEW YORK -- Small forward Paul George scored 16 of his 24 points in the second half as the Indiana Pacers survived to defeat the Brooklyn Nets 96-91.
The Pacers (7-0) remain unbeaten with the win and are off to their best start in franchise history.
In what lived up to be a physical encounter between two gritty sides, the Nets (2-4) continue to struggle to click into gear and meet expectations as one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference while the Pacers showed how to play hard-nosed basketball with a disciplined mindset.
Despite controlling the majority of the game, the Pacers almost had a lapse in its sterling record and had to squeak by in the final minute to get the win. Up 94-91, George turned the ball over when his pass was picked off by power forward Kevin Garnett with 16.5 seconds left. On the ensuing inbound, guard Joe Johnson missed what would be the tying 3-pointer and the Pacers survived.
With the likes of George, center Roy Hibbert and guard Lance Stephenson, it's easy to forget about forward David West. The Nets were leaving him open and the forward was taking advantage, scoring 18 points.
Indiana led by as much as eight in the fourth quarter after trailing 46-44 at halftime. Indiana, regarded as one of the smartest teams in the NBA were taking advantage of Nets turnovers, but Brooklyn continued to find a way to stay in it until the final buzzer
Center Brook Lopez, who scored 10 of his 16 in the fourth quarter, pulled the Nets within three with 2:51 left in the game.
The Nets, who have found success this season going down low to Lopez, encountered a force to be reckoned with in Hibbert and the NBA's leading defense, but the Nets showed plenty of resilience and found a way to stay in the game.
Along with Hibbert, who scored 15 points, the Pacers defense was solid, allowing limited penetration to the basket and forcing the Nets to resort to outside shots on many of their possessions.
Guards Joe Johnson and Deron Williams led the Nets with 17 points in the loss.
NOTES: Indiana brings the best defense in the league to Brooklyn on Saturday night. The Pacers have allowed just 84.3 ppg and 37.8 percent shooting, both lowest in the NBA. Their 6-0 record matches the organization's best start ever, which they attained in the 1970-71 season. ... Pacers G Danny Granger is still missing time with a strained left calf. Original diagnosis said he'd miss only the first two games of the season. ... Nets F Kevin Garnett played Saturday night despite coach Jason Kidd stating Garnett would not play in back-to-back games this season. F Andrei Kirilenko did not play because of back problems. ... Nets F Brook Lopez ranks in the top five of the league in blocks per game (2.60) and field goal percentage (.612). ... Pacers G Paul George ranks fourth in the league averaging 25.3 ppg. C Roy Hibbert leads the NBA in blocks per game with 4.67.