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Nets embarrassed again in 133-111 road loss to Pacers

The way things were going about 18 or so minutes into Monday’s game inside Gainbridge Fieldhouse, it would not have been too surprising if the Indiana Pacers hung 100 points on the Nets in the first half alone.

It was, again, that bad for Brooklyn in its 133-111 loss. Little hustle. Minimum communication. Uninspired defense. It did not matter if the Pacers’ attack came in the paint, in transition or from behind the arc. Indiana got just about whatever it wanted, whenever it wanted, and there was nothing the Nets could do about it.

Weird things can happen in the second game of a back-to-back set. Brooklyn had a game one night prior inside Barclays Center — a 116-104 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers — where they trailed 15-0 four minutes in and were ultimately outscored 31-11 in the first quarter.

They trailed by as many as 26 points on Sunday and never led. And LeBron James had one of his best games of the season, finishing with 40 points and nine 3-pointers.

It is not supposed to get worse than that. Teams are supposed to showcase pride after an embarrassing loss like that. Yet somehow the Nets were seemingly not ready to play again on Monday night and were run out of Gainbridge Fieldhouse accordingly.

After scoring the first four points of the game, courtesy of Mikal Bridges and Cam Thomas, the Pacers responded with a 15-0 run before Dorian Finney-Smith finally stopped the bleeding with a 3-pointer. Brooklyn allowed a 17-0 run to open Sunday’s game against the Lakers.

The Nets’ transition defense was laughable. They could not protect the paint or defend the 3-point line. Indiana had 10 fastbreak points in the first quarter, six treys and they went 12-for-16 on two-point attempts. It all added up to a 43-27 deficit for Brooklyn after one quarter of play. Pacers All-Star Tyrese scored 14 of his game-high 27 points in his first nine minutes on the court.

And it did not get much better. The Nets were trailed 29 points at one point in the second quarter and were down by as many as 36 points in the third. Indiana, which shot 51.5% from the field and 41.9% from deep in its 43rd win of the season, eclipsed the 100-point plateau with 3:08 left in the third quarter.

And the Pacers kept pouring it on in the final frame. They finished with 70 points in the paint and 23 fastbreak points. They also forced 15 turnovers and they attempted 17 more shots than Brooklyn.

The Nets fell to 29-47 this season with their second loss in two days. They now trail the 10th-place Atlanta Hawks by six games for the final Play-In Tournament spot in the Eastern Conference. They have just six regular-season games left and will welcome this same Pacers team to Barclays Center on Wednesday.

Thomas finished with a team-high 22 points for Brooklyn and Trendon Watford added 21 points in 34 minutes. Jalen Smith, who was ejected in the third quarter after a scuffle with Dennis Schröder on the baseline, was Indiana’s second-leading scorer with 17 points and 10 rebounds.

Cam Johnson (left big toe sprain – injury maintenance) and Dennis Smith Jr. (right hip soreness) did not play in Monday’s loss. Speaking to reporters ahead of the game, interim head coach Kevin Ollie said it was too early to tell if they will be available on Wednesday.