PACERS 93
THUNDER 104
4-for-6 Shooting numbers for Kevin Durant in the fourth quarter for 10 points, in addition to five rebounds

10 Turnovers on the night, a season-low for the Thunder

17-8 Second chance points advantage for the Thunder, who outrebounded the Pacers 40-34

22 Points by Kevin Martin in the first half on 6-for-7 shooting

27-18 Point differential in the Thunder’s favor in the third quarter

33.3Shooting percentage the Thunder defense held the Pacers to in the second half.

38 Bench points for the Thunder, compared to 20 for Indiana

83.3 Free throw shooting percentage for the Thunder, which made 25-of-30 attempts

GAME IN REVIEW


RECAP:
It got down to winning time and the Thunder ramped up the defensive intensity to the highest gear.

Over the final five and a half minutes of the game, the Thunder held the Indiana Pacers to only two points on a pair of free throws as it pulled away for a 104-93 victory at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Sparked by a massive block by Russell Westbrook on Roy Hibbert, who stands nearly a foot taller than the Thunder point guard, the rest of Head Coach Scott Brooks’ squad forced missed shots and difficult possessions the rest of the way.

“Everybody participated on the defensive end of the floor in the second half,” Brooks said. “Down the stretch, when we talk about it’s the moment of the truth, game time, the last five minutes of games, we have to really lock in as all five guys and they did a good job of making them take tough shots and miss shots.”

The Pacers shot a high percentage in the first half and stayed with the Thunder throughout the first 24 minutes, but in the second half the Thunder only allowed 37 points on 33.3 percent shooting in what was an exhibition of hustle, boxing out on the defensive boards and focus on both ends of the floor. The Thunder out-rebounded one of the premier rebounding teams in the league while also scoring more second chance points.

“We have a lot of guys on the team that take pride in stopping other teams on doing what they are good at doing,” Westbrook said. “Defense is going to win games. You can score back and forth if you want to but defending is what we do.”

On the other side of the floor, the Thunder hunkered down during winning time as well. The sense in the building was that team leaders like Westbrook and Kevin Durant sensed it was their time to take over the game, and that duo combined for 16 of the Thunder’s 20 fourth quarter points. Almost every late possession started with Westbrook feeding Durant in a post-up situation on the block, where he could create for himself or others.

“Kevin did a good job of setting up, getting open, getting wide and demanding the ball and Russell was doing a good job of getting the ball to him,” Brooks said. “We can go through Kevin with our offense, not just him scoring, but him helping guys get easy buckets and he did that tonight.”

Durant and Westbrook might not have even had the opportunity to close out the game if it weren’t for the inspired first half performance of Kevin Martin, who came off the bench and lifted the Thunder with 22 points in only 15 minutes in the opening half. Whether it was spotting up along the wing for a catch and shoot, driving into the lane for a runner or drawing a foul, Martin’s activity level was extremely high.

“Just being aggressive and just doing what I’ve been doing for years,” Martin said. “It was just one of those games where you kind of felt it.”

He scored all of those points on only seven shots, going 3-for-4 from the three-point stripe and 7-for-8 from the free throw line. Behind Martin’s effort, the Thunder’s second unit propelled the squad to 34 second quarter points and 31 bench points in the first half alone, 11 more than the Pacers’ second unit managed in the entire game.

“I thought our second unit did a good job of sparking us and we took the lead,” Brooks said. “I thought (Martin) was terrific in that second quarter, obviously. He scored a bunch of points and was very active moving. Once again, he was very efficient.”

Turning Point:
With 5:26 remaining the Thunder led 94-91 against the Pacers, but went on an 8-0 to seal the victory over the final few minutes. It all started with a nice backdoor cut by Serge Ibaka, who received a laser beam pass from Kevin Durant for a layup. Next Durant again operated out of the post, hitting a turnaround jumper. The crowd at Chesapeake Energy Arena ratcheted up the noise when Russell Westbrook swatted a Roy Hibbert shot attempt then proceeded to knock down back-to-back mid-range jumpers while making a steal for good measure.

Plays the box score won't show, first half:
Great box out by Westbrook against a much bigger man to free up Ibaka to get the defensive rebound. Incredible vision by Westbrook to see Durant’s defender was turned away and then drop a pass in over the top. Collison bodies up David West and forces him to bobble the ball out of bounds. Savvy move by Sefolosha to come over in help side defense and force a turnover. Russ skies in and snags an offensive rebound over two much bigger players after a teammate’s missed free throw.

Plays the box score won't show, second half:
Nice hustle by Ibaka in transition to get an early post-up before the Pacers’ defense was set. Great fight by Ibaka on the offensive glass to grab a rebound and finish it off the glass. Westbrook fights on the defensive glass to tip a rebound to a teammate. Russ makes up for a turnover by hustling back into defense in transition to make a steal.



“When you defend and rebound, it gives yourself an opportunity to get out on the break, get easy baskets and get shots to start falling.” – Russell Westbrook
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