Pacers attempt to play spoiler to Nets’ seven-game win streak
NEW YORK — It began two weeks with an unexpected overtime win over the Toronto Raptors to snap an eight-game losing streak filled with agonizing moments, especially in fourth quarters.
The Nets (15-18) equaled their longest winning streak since moving from New Jersey in 2012 by getting a 96-93 win in Chicago on Wednesday on the second night of a back-to-back. They won seven straight Jan. 3-15, 2013, in the early weeks of P.J. Carlesimo’s coaching tenure and part of a 49-win season.
During this streak, six of the seven wins are by single digits and the Nets are finding ways to withstand tough moments in the fourth quarter.
Brooklyn also is averaging 117.9 points, shooting 49.4 percent and averaging 26.7 assists, totals that give the Nets a chance their first eight-game winning streak since winning 14 in a row March 12-April 6, 20016.
When the Nets lost eight straight from Nov. 21-Dec. 5, five games were decided by single digits and three were decided on last possessions. After blowing a 23-point lead and losing on Paul George’s game-winner in a 114-112 loss to Oklahoma City, the Nets held a players-only film session in practice the following day and it seemed to start a turnaround.
In Tuesday’s win 115-110 win over the Los Angeles Lakers, D’Angelo Russell hit a timely 3-pointer with 22 seconds left after Los Angeles was within three points. A night later, the Nets were engaged in a struggle with the Bulls in a game with 23 lead changes and 21 ties and did not get control until finishing the game with a 16-7 run over the final 6:17.
“After last night’s win it could be easy to rest on your laurels, and road back-to-backs have been tough for us,” Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said. “If you want to rank the wins, I put this one first and last night’s second.”
“We learned from our failures and our mistakes,” Dinwiddie said. “We lost a lot of close games, and when you have a lot of guys that are focused and locked in on trying to win and get better and hopefully make the playoffs, you’re going to improve.
“We’re not a team that took those losses lightly. They definitely hurt our team, definitely hit us. Because we have better attention to detail, better communication coming from those struggles, now we’re able to close out games.”
Dinwiddie has a league-leading seven 25-point games as a reserve this season. During the winning streak, he also is averaging 24 points while shooting 52.5 percent (53-of-101) and 41.7 percent (15-of-36) from 3-point range.
Indiana is a few plays away from entering Friday with nine straight wins but comes off consecutive close losses to Cleveland and Toronto.
In Tuesday’s 92-91 loss to Cleveland, the Pacers shot 37.5 percent in the fourth quarter and were outscored 10-3 in the final four-plus minutes. A night later in Toronto, the Pacers scored 11 points in the fourth quarter and shot 5-of-18 in the final 12 minutes of a 99-96 loss.
“We just got out of our flow, we got out of our flow offense,” Indiana forward Thaddeus Young said. “They picked it up on the defensive end and they executed.
The Pacers also committed seven of their 23 turnovers in the fourth quarter.
“It’s turnovers,” Indiana coach Nate McMillan said. “You have to execute down the stretch offensively and protect the basketball, certainly get an attempt at the rim or at the basket and defensively you have to get stops. Tonight, we didn’t do either.
Victor Oladipo led the Pacers with 20 points but shot 4-of-13 from the floor in the last two fourth quarters. Since returning from missing 11 games with a knee injury, Oladipo is averaging 16.8 points.
“I know I have to be better down the stretch,” Oladipo said. “I’ve excelled in those moments numerous times, so (it) just didn’t go well the past two nights.”
Indiana enters with an eight-game winning streak over the Nets after Oladipo scored 25 points in its 132-112 home win on Oct. 20. The Pacers also are 11-2 in the last 13 regular-season meetings since the start of the 2015-16 season.