NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — The Indiana Pacers finally found their shooting touch, and all it took was a little extra film work and a game against the skidding New Jersey Nets.
Paul George scored 21 points and the Pacers shot a season-high 52.6 percent in posting a 108-94 victory over the woeful Nets on Monday night.
“We had a film session this morning and I pointed out that we needed to move the ball around,” Indiana coach Frank Vogel said. “I knew the guys got the message because all I heard was `Yup, yup, yup.’ I told them that we’re next to unbeatable when we share the ball, night in and night out. We shot well because we were sharing the ball. When you share the basketball and play for each other instead of yourself, you can be a pretty good team. That’s what we preached today.”
Indiana had not shot 40 percent in its first four games. But the Pacers broke out of the slump against New Jersey, putting five players in double figures. They were outstanding from long range, hitting 13 of 21, or roughly 62 percent.
“In the NBA, it’s funny how the ball can find its way in there,” Vogel said. “I think the number is a little misleading because we made shots when the game was out of reach. But there are times when you simply can’t buy one, then others when it finds a way to go in.”
George was 8 of 10 from the field and hit all five of his 3-pointers. He scored 17 points in the second half, including nine in the fourth quarter when the game was decided.
“We were getting better looks and that led to better shots,” George said. “We emphasized sharing the ball and it got easy because of that. We all bought into sharing the ball and looking for the open man. We turned good shots into great shots. We have a lot of good shooters on this team and if we can shoot the ball that way, we’re going to be a very good team.”
Danny Granger added 15 points and David West scored 13 as the Pacers won for the fourth time in five games and sent the Nets to their fifth straight loss.
“It’s a great start and when we get down to playing a lot of back-to-back games, winning like this on the road is huge,” George said. “It’s going to be a tough season, but we need other wins like this.”
Deron Williams scored 22 points and rookie MarShon Brooks added 21 for the Brooklyn-bound Nets, who have not led for a second in their two losses at the Prudential Center in their final season in New Jersey.
Williams gave Nets coach Avery Johnson a scare when he went down in the second quarter after being fouled on a drive to the basket by Tyler Hansbrough. Williams finished the game but it looked like he was having a tough time putting on his shirt after the game.
“I’m fine,” he said an hour after the game.
The Nets are already without center Brook Lopez because of a broken foot. Power forward Kris Humphries missed the game because of a sore left shoulder.
As has been the case most of the season, the Nets fell behind early and never recovered against the Pacers.
“We’re 1-5 and fortunately we have 60 more games,” Johnson said.
The Nets struggled on offense, hitting 37 percent from the field and 25 percent (7 of 28) from long range.
“We’re just missing good looks, open looks, missing shots they usually hit,” Brooks said. “We’ll go through stretches where we’ll start hitting those shots and then we’ll be fine. It’s not time to get down on ourselves. If we hit our shots, we’ll be fine.”
Darren Collison opened the game with a 3-pointer and a fadeaway jumper to stake the Pacers to a 5-0 lead. The Nets closed to 14-12 on a 3-pointer by Brooks midway through the quarter but Granger hit a 3-pointer, Roy Hibbert hit a hook in the lane and George Hill nailed another 3-pointer after Williams hit a layup for New Jersey.
Indiana led by eight after the first quarter and by six at the half. The Nets stayed within striking distance for most of the third quarter before the Pacers closed the period with a 12-4 run to take a 77-64 lead. Hibbert started the spurt with a layup, Granger hit a 3-pointer and Tyler Hansbrough hit a baseline jumper for a 72-60 lead and the Nets never got close again.
NOTES: Humphries is scheduled to have an MRI on his shoulder on Tuesday. He probably will not travel to Boston for a game on Wednesday, Johnson said. … George’s career high is 23 points. … Granger was the only Pacer to struggle from the field. He was 4 of 14. This game capped a six-game stretch in eight days for New Jersey.