The Nets survived one night without Kyrie Irving and lived to tell about it.
Their second try was a nightmare.
The Nets returned home without their star point guard after a 10-day, five-game trip out West and laid a clunker Monday night, getting dismantled by the Pacers in a 115-86 loss at Barclays Center.
Irving missed his second straight game with a shoulder injury that the Nets (5-8) hope is only a “short-term” deal. But even he might not have been able to save the Nets on a night when they were crushed on the glass and let the Pacers drop 41 points on them in the second quarter.
The Nets trailed by as many as 28 points in the second quarter — at which point the Pacers had blown them off the court with a 53-17 run. All in a game the Pacers (8-6) had started by shooting 4 of 21 from the floor.
Spencer Dinwiddie led the Nets with 28 points, eight assists and five rebounds, but didn’t get much help. They were missing Irving and Caris LeVert (thumb surgery), but the Pacers were without starters Malcolm Brogdon and Jeremy Lamb and hardly skipped a beat. Domantas Sabonis hurt the Nets with his physicality, racking up 16 points and 18 rebounds.
On the 2-3 road trip the Nets just finished, they dropped a pair of games in which they held double-digit leads at halftime. They tried to flip the script Monday. After trailing 59-35 at halftime, the Nets showed a pulse in the third quarter and shrunk the deficit to as few as 12 points. They had a chance to cut it to 10, but Garrett Temple missed a layup, and the Pacers never let it get any closer after that, pushing the lead back to as many as 30 points in the fourth quarter.
After a sluggish first quarter, the Nets and Pacers were tied 18-18. The Nets held the Pacers to 7 of 28 from the floor, but allowed seven offensive rebounds and got out-rebounded 22-13 overall through the first 12 minutes. It allowed the Pacers to hang around early, especially as the Nets went cold near the end of the quarter, missing plenty at the rim.
The Pacers raced out to an 11-0 run to start the second quarter — part of a larger 23-4 run that started midway through the first quarter — to take control. The Nets finally ended the drought with an alley-oop from Spencer Dinwiddie to DeAndre Jordan, but then the Pacers responded with another run — this one 9-0 — to establish a double-digit lead.
By the time there was 7:14 left in the second quarter, Sabonis had already brought down 14 rebounds — two fewer than the Nets had as a team.
The Nets had little trouble getting into the paint in the first half but too often crumbled once they got there, disrupted by the Pacers’ size and lacking a finishing touch.