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Indianapolis

Nets LeVert on a roll heading into game against Pacers

Sports Xchange
20 Oct 2018, 14:07 GMT+10

INDIANAPOLIS -- In his third year in the NBA, Brooklyn Nets guard Caris LeVert is showing he has the potential to be a big-time scorer.

LeVert scored a career-high 28 points against the New York Knicks on Friday, and that included the game-winner with one second left. He had previously tied his career-high with 27 points in a loss at Detroit in the Nets' season opener.

"He had a heck of game on both ends of the floor," Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said Friday. "Especially at the end, he made (Tim) Hardaway work for his shots. He was our leader (Friday night). He said after the game, 'Coach, I owed you one from the Detroit game.' Great game-winner, that was a heck of a finish at the end."

LeVert had the ball stripped from him late in Wednesday's 103-100 loss at Detroit.

"I wanted to get the shot that I wanted to get and I didn't want to rush it," LeVert said.

The Nets (1-1) play at the Indiana Pacers (1-1) at 7 p.m. on Saturday in Indianapolis. While the Nets slipped past the Knicks 107-105, the Pacers were blown out by Milwaukee 118-101 Friday in the opening game in the Bucks' new arena. Milwaukee dominated most of the way.

Atkinson said he sees LeVert's confidence growing.

"He's growing. He maturing," Atkinson said. "You can feel it during the game. When the guy makes a jump to be a better player, the emotional part is part of it and the leadership part was huge."

Nets guard DeAngelo Russell has watched LeVert's improvement.

"Caris has gotten a lot better and he's showing it right now," Russell said. "Now it's up for us to perform every night, taking the pressure off each other and at the same time reminding us what our job is."

The Nets committed 22 turnovers compared to just three for the Knicks.

"We gave them a ton more shots," Atkinson said. "We almost had to play perfect basketball because that turnover margin was so great. It something we got to address and something to do better than that."

Fortunately for the Nets, they held a 55-36 rebounding edge.

"The rebounding was huge," Atkinson said. "Guys were really helping out there. Jarrett Allen with 11 rebounds, that's what we asked of him."

Russell scored nine of his 15 points in the fourth quarter.

Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo broke loose for 22 of his 26 points in the first half and added 15 rebounds.

"Antetokounmpo is one of the better players in finding the perimeter guys," Pacers coach Nate McMillan said. "Teams are looking to attack the rim and then kick it out for 3. You have to keep the ball in front of you and make them go through your chest. They surrounded (Antetokounmpo) with 3-point shooters. He's a tough matchup when he's spinning and playing in the paint."

The Bucks made 17 of 47 3-pointers while the Pacers were 6 of 18 from 3-point range.

"(Friday night) we didn't show up defensively," McMillan said. "Offensively we had way too many turnovers. You are not going to win games with 17 turnovers. Preseason is over."

On a positive note, the Pacers' bench did outscore the Bucks' bench 47-34. The Pacers' bench had outscored the Grizzlies' bench 58-32 in the opener.

"We just try to come in and change the game and make it hard for their second team," Pacers reserve guard Tyreke Evans said. "We try to be the best in every category, push the ball and play together."

Pacers point guard Darren Collison sees that as a team strength.

"We thought we were deep coming into the game, there's no difference between the first and second unit," Collison said before playing the Bucks.

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