Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 7:00 PM ET at Chesapeake Energy Arena
Game Rewind: Pacers 94, Thunder 118
Scott Agness | December 8, 2013
When the NBA schedule was released in early August, the Pacers knew that their first big road trip – five games in eight days – would be a handful. Adding another layer of difficulty, their journey started and ended with back-to-back games against the four best teams in the Western Conference.
The trip might have worn on the Pacers (18-3), as they gave up a season-high 118 points in their 118-94 loss Sunday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena. The Thunder, the only other team besides the Pacers that’s undefeated at home, shot a staggering 61 percent in their fourth consecutive home win over the Pacers.
The Thunder (15-4) scored 10 straight points to scurry out in front by double digits as the Pacers’ offense struggled to get buckets. Kevin Durant, the NBA’s leading scorer (28.5 points per game), scored 14 of his team’s first 18 points. The Thunder tallied 11 fast break points in the opening stanza and led by ten.
Anytime Kevin Durant was on the floor, Pacers coach Frank Vogel ensured that Paul George was as well. Durant nailed 50 percent of first-half field goals, and had 19 at the break. The Pacers cut their deficit to eight in the early minutes of the second, but the Thunder poured on another 28 points in the quarter and took a 56-37 lead into the locker room.
The third quarter was a mixed bag for the Pacers. They turned it over on four straight possessions, failed to convert on a 3-on-1 fast break and Vogel received a technical foul. Yet it was also their most efficient period, thanks to 18 points from George. He banged in four 3-pointers and was key in a 10-2 spurt to close the third quarter. Still, they were behind by 21.
George and the Pacers never gave up, but they didn’t have enough in this one to pull off a comeback. The Thunder connected on all cylinders. They led by as many as 29 and never trailed in the game. With 6:41 to play and down by 21, Vogel sent in the reserves to rest his starters, knowing that they wrap up their grueling schedule with Miami, the back-to-back NBA Champions, at home on Tuesday.
Just as Vogel didn’t get too high following their whipping of San Antonio the night before, the Pacers’ coach won’t let his team get too down after this one. They finished the road trip 3-2, and still have the league’s best record, plus a two-game lead on the Heat ahead of their first meeting of the season.
Inside the Numbers
Paul George finished with 32 points, his fifth time with at least 30 this season. He made 7-of-10 field goals in the second half after going 2-for-7 in the first. 10 of his 32 points were scored at the foul line.
With 12 points and nine rebounds, Roy Hibbert came up just short of another double-double. David West had scored 11 and Lance Stephenson added eight.
Kevin Durant had a game-high 36 points and 10 rebounds, along with five assists. Durant has scored 32 or more in nine games this season. Russell Westbrook was stellar, ending the night with 26 points and a season-high 13 dimes. Reggie Jackson, Westbrook’s backup, contributed 15 off the bench.
The Pacers have three losses on the season, all three occurring away from home on the second night of a back-to-back. Seven of their 20 sets of back-to-back games are now behind them.
The Thunder scored 22 points on the run, 10 more than the Pacers.
Both teams were excellent at the foul line — Pacers: 19-of-21, Thunder: 19-of-20.
Indiana’s backcourt was limited to 12 points on 6-of-19 shooting, and five assists.
“I think they were a step quicker in everything they did and everybody on their team made shots. It wasn’t just Durant and Westbrook — those guys were exceptionally, obviously.” – Frank Vogel on the Thunder
“It was a good trip. You’re playing four of the top teams in the Western Conference in their building, two of them on the second night of a back-to-back, on a nine-day trip. That’s a brutal schedule. To come out 3-2, obviously you want to go 5-0, but we’re happy with 3-2.” – Frank Vogel on the road trip
“No, that’s just coach being positive. I feel like everybody in this locker room is salty about the loss. We wanted to be 4-1 on this trip, or 5-0. We felt like we could’ve won every game on this trip but it came down to not making the right plays.” – George Hill on the road trip
“We don’t make excuses. We’ve struggled against them for the last couple years now, and we just haven’t found a way to make it difficult for them. Obviously, Durant is just a match-up problem when he gets going. He got going way too early, and too easy. He just took the game over.” – David West
“We played the top four Western teams, and we played a tough team at their house. A team that’s always tough to win at in Utah. To walk away 3-2 (on road trip), this game got away from us. We almost had a winnable game in Portland. I’d say we did well. We did well this trip. A lot of stuff to take away and things we can nit-pick and take from the teams that we lost to and the teams we played this trip. I think we played well this trip.” – Paul George on the road trip
Stat of the Game
The Thunder shot a season-high 61 percent from the field, their best shooting night since March 30, 2013 (63 percent, vs. Charlotte).
- The Thunder have won six of the last eight meetings, including four straight at home.
- Frank Vogel was whistled for a technical foul in the third quarter, his third of the season.
- Oklahoma City recorded their 98th consecutive sellout (18,203).
Tuesday, Dec. 10 vs Miami – 7 p.m. EST. Limited seats remain for this Eastern Conference showdown at Pacers.com/tickets.