Saturday, Oct. 29 at 7:30 PM ET at Barclays Center
Playing on the second night of a back-to-back and with two starters and a key reserve watching in street clothes, the Pacers were significant underdogs against Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and the Nets on Saturday night in Brooklyn.
But the young and hungry Pacers didn’t get the memo, as Indiana (3-4) unleashed an unprecedented shooting display, knocking down a franchise-record 23 3-pointers in a 125-116 victory over Brooklyn (1-5).
The Blue & Gold’s two emerging stars, Tyrese Haliburton and Bennedict Mathurin, combined for 53 points and 11 3-pointers in the victory. 20-year-old Mathurin scored 32 points off the bench, the highest total so far in his young career, going 6-for-9 from 3-point range and 10-for-10 from the free throw line. 22-year-old Haliburton added 26 points while going 6-for-9 from distance and also tallied eight assists, six rebounds, and three steals.
The Pacers handled the Nets even without starting center Myles Turner, who sat out the second night of a back-to-back as he works his way backed from a sprained ankle, as well as forward Aaron Nesmith and backup point guard TJ McConnell, who both did not dress due to knee soreness.
Haliburton went 2-for-2 from 3-point range in the first quarter, but the rest of the Blue & Gold struggled to knock down shots early on Saturday. Haliburton’s teammates went 2-for-12 to start the contest, allowing Brooklyn to jump out to a 22-13 lead.
Rookie Mathurin finally ignited the Indiana offense, converting a layup and a 3-pointer during a 7-0 Pacers run. Mathurin continued to key the Pacers’ surge through the rest of the frame, capping a nine-point quarter with a pair of free throws in the closing seconds that tied the game at 26 entering the second quarter.
The offense went cold once again to open the ensuing frame. Indiana missed its first eight shots in the second quarter as the Nets surged back ahead with 10 unanswered points.
Buddy Hield broke the drought with his first three of the night. Mathurin added a trey of his own the Pacers’ next possession, then Haliburton and Hield again knocked down triples during a 16-7 Indiana run to climb back within one.
That trio continued their 3-point barrage a short while later, as Mathurin, Hield, and Haliburton went back-to-back-to-back from distance to given the Blue & Gold a 55-51 lead. The next trip down the floor, Haliburton was fouled on a 3-point attempt and made all his free throws to extend the lead to seven.
The Nets answered with some threes of their own, as Joe Harris, Royce O’Neale, and Irving each made a trey to put Brooklyn back in front in the final minute. Haliburton answered with a layup with 10 seconds left to give Indiana a 63-62 lead at the break.
The two teams traded the lead 10 times over the first six minutes of the second half. They were tied at 82 following a Durant dunk before Hield’s fifth three of the night followed by two Isaiah Jackson slams opened up a seven-point lead for Indiana.
Durant came to life for the Nets, scoring 10 points in the quarter to keep the score close, but Indiana took a 92-90 lead into the fourth.
Two more threes — this time by Chris Duarte and Andrew Nembhard — keyed a 13-5 Pacers run to open the final frame. Durant continued to carry the offense for the Nets, scoring six straight Brooklyn points to make it a 108-101 game with 6:37 remaining.
But Duarte then buried Indiana’s 22nd 3-pointer of the night to set a new team record. Haliburton then made a free throw after a take foul and followed that up with a lob to Jackson to push the Pacers’ lead to 13.
Indiana later led 118-103 following two Mathurin free throws with 4:04 to play. The Nets responded with six straight to get back within single digits, but Mathurin sealed the victory with a three from the right corner with 2:33 remaining.
Hield flirted with a triple-double, finishing with 17 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists while going 5-for-11 from 3-point range. Jackson filled up the stat sheet with 18 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, two steals, and one block.
Irving led all scorers with 35 points in the loss, going 13-for-21 from the field and 5-for-11 from 3-point range. Durant added 26 points, five rebounds, and five blocks.
The Pacers and Brooklyn will have a rematch on Monday night, when they complete a two-game set at Barclays Center. Indiana is expected to have reinforcements for that contest, as Turner should return to the lineup, likely along with one or both of Nesmith and McConnell.
After a five-game road trip, the Pacers will return to Gainbridge Fieldhouse to host Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat on Friday, Nov. 4 at 7:00 PM ET. Find Tickets >>
Broadcast Information (TV and Radio Listings >>)
TV: Bally Sports Indiana – Chris Denari (play-by-play), Quinn Buckner (analyst), Jeremiah Johnson (sideline reporter/host)
Radio: 93.5/107.5 The Fan – Mark Boyle (play-by-play), Pat Boylan (studio host)
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism