Sunday, December 9th at 7:00 PM EST at Chesapeake Energy Arena
Game Preview: IND at OKC
by Scott Agness | December 5, 2012 | Updated December 9, 2012
Sandwiched in between four home games, the Pacers will head southwest to face the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday night. Oklahoma City is still one of the best and most exciting teams in the league. Facing the Thunder in the raucous environment of Chesapeake Energy Arena will make the task even more difficult.
The one big change for the Thunder this season, of course, is that James Harden is no longer on the roster. They traded Harden plus Cole Aldrich, Lazar Hayward, and Daequan Cook to the Houston Rockets less than a week before the start of the regular season in exchange for Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb, two first-round picks and a second-round pick.
Winners of seven in a row and 10 of their last 11, the Thunder are the hottest team in the league. And in those last 11 games, they have scored at least 100 points. Their four losses, all respectable, were to San Antonio, Atlanta, Memphis, and Boston.
As the highest scoring team in the NBA, the Thunder will look to run and capitalize on their opponents’ mistakes. They are the best shooting team in the league, especially from outside (43 percent, and if you foul, they’ll make you pay at the line (84 percent).
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are a tremendous one-two punch. They can beat you off the dribble, knock down an open shot and will run in transition. OKC’s Serge Ibaka and Indiana’s Roy Hibbert are the top shot-blockers in the league, averaging over three swats per game.
It’s safe to say the Pacers will have their hands full. But they’ll also get a quality test in the Thunder, a valuable opportunity to assess their play after recent success over the last two weeks.
- C – Roy Hibbert | All-Star Voting »
- F – David West | All-Star Voting »
- F – Paul George | All-Star Voting »
- G – Lance Stephenson
- G – George Hill | All-Star Voting »
- C – Kendrick Perkins
- F – Serge Ibaka
- F – Kevin Durant
- G – Thabo Sefolosha
- G – Russell Westbrook
Pacers: Danny Granger (out, left knee)
Thunder: Perry Jones (day-to-day, left ankle sprain)
"Obviously, not having (James) Harden changes them a little bit but (Kevin) Martin has the ability to come in and score." – Frank Vogel on the Thunder
"We’re at a point right now where we have to make adjustments. Everybody on the bench has to look at their game and their approach, and they have to make adjustments—much like Paul George has made with his shooting routine to get himself going... and I got to make an adjustment with how I’m using them." – Frank Vogel on his bench
- The Pacers have lost two straight at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
- Paul George, who will spend most of his time defending Kevin Durant, has been the Pacers leading scorer in each of the last three games.
- The Thunder haven’t lost in December (3-0) and are 10-0 this season when five or more players score 10+ points.
- Kevin Durant was named the Western Conference Player of the Month for his part in guiding the Thunder to a 13-4 start and ranked second in the league in points per game.
- Oklahoma City’s Director of Medical Services, Dr. Donnie Strack, served as a Graduate Assistant athletic trainer for the Pacers from 2002-2005 and was often known as Reggie Miller’s ball boy.
- The Pacers are 6-4 vs. Western Conference teams this season.
The Pacers defeated the Thunder at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in their only meeting last season, 103-98. They led by as many as 24 and hung tough late, despite Kevin Durant going off for 44 points. The Thunder got within three points with five seconds left, but Danny Granger hit both free throw attempts to secure a Pacers victory. It was their fourth straight win during a stretch where they won 11 of their first 12 games in April.
Danny Granger led the Pacers with 26 points, Roy Hibbert had 21 and Paul George grabbed a career-high (at the time) 16 rebounds.
Russell Westbrook finished with 21 points and 11 assists and James Harden added 10 in the loss.
Each team fouled 25 times and they combined to shoot 65 free throws.
Broadcast Information | Find Local Listings »
TV: FOX Sports Indiana – Chris Denari (play-by-play), Quinn Buckner (analyst), Brooke Olzendam (sideline reporter/host)
Radio: 1070 The Fan, Pacers Radio Network - Mark Boyle (play-by-play), Austin Croshere (analyst), Michael Grady (host)