Pacers 105, Nets 91

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INDIANAPOLIS -- Indiana forward Paul George scored 24 points and played strong defense on Brooklyn guard Joe Johnson to lead the Pacers to a 105-91 victory over the Nets on Saturday night.

Red-hot guard Lance Stephenson had 23 points, nine rebounds and seven assists for the Pacers, who won their fourth in a row and improved their Eastern Conference-best record to 24-5.

Point guard George Hill scored 21 points and forward David West had 10 points, seven rebounds and six assists for Indiana.

Brooklyn (10-20) fought hard but was held back by a porous defense that allowed Indiana to match a season best with 53.5 percent shooting from the field.

Forwards Paul Pierce and Mirza Teletovic scored 18 and 17 points, respectively, and point guard Deron Williams had 14 points and six assists.

Playing without star center Brook Lopez and key frontcourt reserves Andrei Kirilenko and Andray Blatche, the Nets simply didn't have enough and dropped to 0-3 against Indiana. They shot 46.8 percent from the field but were outrebounded 41-28.

The Pacers, who came in outscoring opponents by an average of 5.9 points in the third quarter, stayed true to form and outscored the Nets 28-20 in the third to seize a firm grip on what had been a high-scoring game. That gave Indiana an 86-76 lead entering the fourth quarter.

The Nets scored on their first five possessions of the second quarter, causing Indiana coach Frank Vogel to call timeout with 8:55 remaining as Brooklyn took a 38-35 lead. Things got worse out of the stoppage when Pierce stole a pass and dribbled for an open-court dunk that gave the Nets a 43-37 advantage.

But Indiana exploded for 17 points in the final 5 1/2 minutes of the half to carry a 58-56 lead into intermission. Stephenson had 14 points, seven assists and five rebounds by halftime.

Johnson had just nine points on 4-of-12 shooting from the field. His backup, Alan Anderson, scored 10 points off the bench for Brooklyn, which continued a disappointing season.

Center Roy Hibbert scored 11 points for Indiana, marking the sixth time this season all five starters have scored in double figures.

NOTES: Saturday's game began a nine-game stretch in which the Nets will face seven teams with winning records. ... Brooklyn announced that C Brook Lopez will have surgery on Jan. 4 to repair the fractured fifth metatarsal of his right foot. The team did not reveal a timetable for his recovery. ... The sellout crowd was the ninth at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Last season, the Pacers had just 10 home sellouts in the regular season. ... Pacers F/G Paul George's 3-pointer with 2:56 left in the first half tied him with Austin Croshere (376 3s made) for seventh place on the franchise's career list.

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