Facing the Indiana Pacers made it even tougher.
Brooklyn was held to just 38.7 percent shooting by Indiana’s top-ranked defense Monday night, and the Nets were blown out by the Pacers 103-86 at the Barclays Center. The Nets are now 2-8 without Lopez this season.
Paul Pierce (0-for-7) was held scoreless for the first time since the 16th professional game of his 16-year career. Pierce was ejected with 4:22 left in the third quarter after picking up a flagrant foul 2.
Pierce, Deron Williams (3-for-9) and Kevin Garnett (3-for-10) combined to go 6-for-26 from the field. Williams was booed after missing a baseline layup. He appeared to tweak his left ankle following a fourth-quarter turnover and was seen limping.
WHAT IT MEANS: The Nets (9-18) have lost three straight. With Lopez, who was leading the NBA in points per touch, out, their offense stagnated. They settled for too many midrange jumpers. That’s probably because Roy Hibbert always does a phenomenal job protecting the rim.
Meanwhile, Paul George has quickly become one of the best players in the entire league. He made several shots with a high degree of difficulty -- aside from a sweet reverse dunk -- and finished with 26 points. New York City native Lance Stephenson (26 points) played a big part in the fun, too. The Pacers (23-5) led by as many as 24.
The third quarter was the difference. The Nets were outscored 30-19 -- it was the eighth time the Nets have allowed as many as 30 points in the third quarter. Once again, rebounding was an issue (46-36).
Mirza Teletovic, starting in place of Lopez, had a pretty decent game (8 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists). Jason Terry played for the first time since Nov. 20. Terry (11 points) played with energy and passion -- something most of the rest of the team must have forgotten.
UP NEXT: The Nets will practice Tuesday before facing the Chicago Bulls on Christmas Day at home.