NBA Basketball

Pacers would like repeat of first matchup with Nets

The Indiana Pacers began this season by scoring 140 points in a home game against the Brooklyn Nets.

While the Pacers have not reached those heights again, it proved to be a sign they would develop one of the league's most effective offenses.

Indiana hopes to produce another effective night of offense Saturday when it hosts the Nets.

On Oct. 18, the Pacers placed eight in double figures and shot 52 percent in a 140-131 win over the Nets. It is among 22 games where Indiana has topped 100 points and among 12 games where the Pacers have scored at least 110.

Because of those types of games, Indiana's 108.2 points per game are sixth in the league. The Pacers are sixth in the league in field goal percentage at .479 and second in 3-point percentage at 38.8 percent, and have shot at least 50 percent in 10 games this season.

Last season, the Pacers shot at least 50 percent in 23 games but were 14th in points at 105.3, 15th in offensive rating at 108.6 and 10th in field goal percentage at 46.5 percent.

Nobody has aided Indiana's improvements on offense like Victor Oladipo, who was the centerpiece of the July trade from Oklahoma City for Paul George.

Oladipo is producing the best season of his five-year career by averaging 24.8 points, shooting 48.3 percent from the field and 43.2 percent from 3-point range. He is averaging 29.1 points on 50.5 percent shooting in his last 10 games.

"We knew he had potential," Pacers coach Nate McMillan said after Oladipo scored 26 points in Sunday's 109-97 victory at Brooklyn. "His ability to play off the ball, play with the ball, he's shown that. His speed. Only a few guys in the league has the speed that he has.

"Really what he's learning to do is use that speed and defensively he can be a better than average defender. We're still learning and it's a work in progress."

The former Indiana University guard has led the Pacers in scoring 22 games and the team is 15-8 when he gets at least 20 points.

Oladipo scored 23 points in Wednesday's 105-95 victory at Atlanta by shooting 8 of 15 and hitting three 3-pointers.

"I think this year his confidence is on another level," said Indiana forward Domatas Sabonis, who played with Oladipo last year when the guard averaged 15.9 points. "He's shooting the ball great. He's making the right decision, passing, rebounding. Steals. Blocks. That's just helping us in a major way."

Brooklyn (12-19) is seeking consecutive wins for the second time this season after coasting to a 119-84 home victory over the Washington Wizards. The Nets snapped a four-game losing streak by shooting 50 percent and producing their best defensive showing of the season.

The Nets allowed 111 points during its second four-game losing streak of the season, but before heading out on a five-game trip they allowed 36.6 percent shooting, won the rebounding battle 60-35 and set a season high with 29 assists.

Brooklyn delivered its best performance two days after one of its worst. On Wednesday, the Nets fell behind by 21 and gave up 64 points in the first half of a 104-99 loss to the Sacramento Kings where coach Kenny Atkinson didn't feel they were aggressive enough offensively.

"I think they feed each other," Atkinson said. "I felt like against Sacramento we never got out and transitioned because them ball was going in the hoop all the time. So the fact that we were getting stops and rebounding the ball really well, that got us out and got our pace going and got us some easy looks.

"I think we emphasized to them we're slipping in our drive game and we tell them how badly we've slipped and I think it resonates to guys."

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson led the Nets with 21 points, 11 rebounds and six assists. Caris LeVert added 17. Three others (Spencer Dinwiddie, DeMarre Carroll and Nik Stauskas) contributed 15 apiece.

After getting their biggest win of the season, the Nets will attempt to sweep a back-to-back set for the first time since April 1-2.

"We have to make sure we eat right, right now, getting the right amount of sleep and bringing the same energy tomorrow night," LeVert said.

Indiana has won the last five meetings and 13 of the last 17.

Updated December 23, 2017

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