Pacers 103, Nets 86

Joe Pantorno, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

NEW YORK -- Guard Lance Stephenson and forward Paul George scored 26 points as the Indiana Pacers won their third straight game in a 103-86 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Monday night.
Yet another game was lost by the Nets in the third quarter, as the Pacers outscored the Nets 30-19, including a 15-4 run to start the half. George scored 10 of his 26 in the period.
A stifling Pacers' defense frustrated the Nets, including one of its decorated veterans as forward Paul Pierce clothes-lined forward Paul George on a fast-break opportunity off a steal in the third quarter. Pierce was ejected from the game without scoring a single point.
Brooklyn was held to less than 40 percent shooting from the field while committing 17 turnovers. Guard Joe Johnson led the Nets with 17 points while Deron Williams was held to just nine points, but did add eight assists.
Guard Jason Terry returned after missing 15 games with a sore knee, scoring 11 points.
The Nets embarked upon the rest of their season without center Brook Lopez, who was lost for the year on Friday night when he broke his foot. Forward Kevin Garnett stepped in for the Nets' leading scorer and finished with 12 points.
Stephenson, who recorded his third triple-double performance on Sunday night against Boston, is the only player in the NBA to have multiple triple-double efforts this season. His speed and athleticism proved too much for the Nets defense, as Brooklyn could not find any answers for the hometown product. He added seven rebounds and five assists to his game-leading scoring effort.
Center Roy Hibbert was held scoreless the entire first half, not recording a basket until two minutes were gone in the third quarter. Picking up his fourth foul midway through the third, he was relegated to the bench for much of the second half but bounced back strong ending with eight points and nine rebounds. Forward Ian Mahinmi recorded seven points filling in for Hibbert.
Five turnovers in the first quarter brought a small set-back to the Pacers, but George and West's mid-range game helped the Eastern Conference's best team overcome the early struggles and lead.
Despite the injuries and the well-documented slow start to this season, the Nets managed to hang tough with the Pacers despite having finished the second half shooting just 7 of 29 from the field.
Stephenson recorded 14 first-half points to pace Indiana while center Andray Blatche's nine led the Nets, who trailed by six at halftime.
NOTES: The Pacers lost two in a row last week, the first time this season they dropped consecutive games, but followed with two wins over the weekend. ... Nets C Brook Lopez is lost for the remainder of the season with a broken foot. Lopez led the team with 20.7 points per game and was second with 6.0 rebounds per game. ... G Jason Terry returned to the Nets on Monday after missing 15 games with a bruised left knee. ... Pacers F Danny Granger played in his third game of the season as he is coming back from a calf injury. He averaged 8.5 points in 23.5 minutes over his first two games. ... The two teams meets again in Indiana on Saturday.

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