Despite being blown out for the better part of the second half, the loudest boos at The Izod Center came when a security guard confiscated a beach ball being swatted around by fans.
The Indiana Pacers exploded for 72 points in the first half and won the game on cruise control, 121-105. Danny Granger scored 28 points while New Jersey product Troy Murphy notched a double-double, scoring 21 points and grabbing 14 rebounds.
The Nets played a tight 18 minutes before the game got away from them. Brook Lopez drained two free-throws to cut Indiana’s lead to 48-47. Indiana subsequently outscored New Jersey 24-5 in the final 5:54 of the first half.
The Nets trailed, 72-52, at the half. Tonight’s effort marks the second straight game New Jersey has yielded more than 70 points in the first half. Boston led, 71-35, after 24 minutes on Wednesday night.
The Pacers’ 24-5 run proved to be the difference in the game. Chris Douglas-Roberts, who managed just eights on 2-of-7 shooting, was not surprised by Indiana’s offensive explosion.
“It’s been pretty much the same thing the whole year,” Douglas-Roberts said. “Typical. Typical for us.
“I think we should emphasize [team defense] a little more, but that’s just how I feel,” Douglas-Roberts added.
New Jersey squandered strong offensive performances from Devin Harris and Brook Lopez. Harris, who vented his frustrations during halftime of the loss against Boston, responded by scoring 22 points while dishing out nine assists. Lopez scored a team-high 27 points and grabbed seven rebounds.
While Harris was pleased with his team’s offensive effort, he expected the team to play better defensively. He did credit Indiana’s offense for New Jersey’s struggles.
“I expected us to play hard all the way around,” said Harris, referring to last game’s effort. “[The Pacers] do a lot of things well, off the ball cuts, they get open for threes. In transition they flow into their threes really well. When they’re hitting them at that rate, they’re tough to beat.”
Indiana shot 13-of-23 from behind the arc, good for 56.5 percent. Granger and Murphy combined to make 6-of-11 of their three-pointers. The Pacers shot 53.1 percent for the game.
Sharpshooters Mike Dunleavy and Brandon Rush paced Indiana off the bench. Rush scored 15 points while making all three of his three-pointers. Dunleavy added 14 points.
With 1:01 left to play in the third quarter, Dunleavy buried a three-pointer to give the Pacers a 96-74 lead, their largest of the night.
Indiana led 96-76 after three quarters. The Nets outscored the Pacers, 29-25, in the fourth quarter.
Harris feels the Nets did enough positive things on offense to build confidence for their upcoming west-coast trip. The guard believes Courtney Lee and Douglas-Roberts need to get going, however. Lee scored a career-high 28 points in a Jan. 8 loss to New Orleans, but he only scored three points tonight on 1-of-6 shooting.
“We’ve got some guys that struggled tonight,” Harris said. “We’ve got to get those guys, Courtney and [Douglas-Roberts] back into the flow because we’re going to need those guys, especially on this road trip we have coming up.
Humphries strong off the bench
Recently acquired from Dallas, forward Kris Humphries is paying early dividends for the Nets. After scoring nine points and grabbing eight rebounds in his Nets’ debut, he followed up with 15 points and eight rebounds in 27 minutes.
Humphries, who has assumed Josh Boone’s role, has given the Nets the burst of energy off the bench they were looking for.
Humphries has been limited in previous stops in Toronto and Dallas, but the opportunity to play is here in New Jersey.
In Dallas, Humphries was buried on the bench. With starters Dirk Nowitzki and Erick Dampier playing the bulk of the minutes, Humphries was behind Drew Gooden on the depth chart.
His ability to get to the rim and rebound should make him an asset for the 3-36 Nets going forward.