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INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA – Kyrie Irving #11of the Brooklyn Nets talks to the media following the game against the Indiana Pacers at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on January 05, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo : Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
The Brooklyn Nets finally snapped their three-game losing skid with a thrilling 129-121 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday, January 5. Six players scored in double figures for the Nets, including the returning Kyrie Irving, who was making his season debut for Brooklyn.
Irving dazzles in much-anticipated return to NBA
Irving made quite an impact in his first game back in the Nets lineup, scoring 22 points on 9-of-17 shooting from the floor. He also had four assists, three rebounds, three steals, and one block in 32 minutes of action. Irving helped spark a second-half rally with the Nets erasing a 19-point deficit.
Irving got some help from his Big Three mates, Kevin Durant and James Harden. Durant led all scorers with 39 points on 15-of-24 shooting from the field. He also grabbed eight rebounds and dished out seven assists in 41 minutes of play. Harden had the least impressive showing among the Big Three, recording 18 points, six assists, and five rebounds against the Pacers.
All the talk before the start of the game centered around Irving, but another returning NBA star grabbed the headlines in the first quarter. Lance Stephenson put on quite a show in his first home game with the Pacers since signing a 10-day contract, scoring Indiana’s final 20 points in the opening quarter.
He shot 8 of 9 from the field during those six minutes, including 4 of 5 from deep. Stephenson’s 20-point output was a new record for any Indiana player in the first quarter. That was also the most points for a player coming off the bench in the opening quarter.
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Brooklyn stuns Indiana with a late surge
Stephenson’s exploits helped Indiana build a 37-32 lead after 12 minutes of play. The Pacers continued their dominance in the second quarter as they outscored the Nets, 36-28. The Pacers entered the halftime break with a 73-60 lead, thanks largely to their red-hot shooting. Indiana shot 62 percent from the field in the first half.
The Pacers looked like they were on their way to a famous win, building a commanding 101-86 advantage in the closing stages of the third quarter. The Nets, however, finished that quarter strong, closing with an 8-0 run to slice the deficit to just seven points. Irving capped that run with a buzzer-beater to cut Indiana’s lead to 101-94.
The Nets continued to pile on the pressure in the fourth quarter, opening the period with a 13-6 run to take the lead for good at 107-106 with 7:23 remaining. Irving then made two straight baskets to push Brooklyn’s lead to five points, an advantage that the Nets would not relinquish. Brooklyn outscored Indiana, 35-20, in the fourth quarter to steal the road win.
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