GAME RECAP: Pacers 108, Thunder 106

Domantas Sabonis scores 26 points off the bench and Wesley Matthews hits the game-winning putback with two-seconds left, as the Pacers come back from 19 down to spoil Paul George's homecoming and defe

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GAME RECAP: Pacers 108, Thunder 106

Domantas Sabonis scores 26 points off the bench and Wesley Matthews hits the game-winning putback with two-seconds left, as the Pacers come back from 19 down to spoil Paul George's homecoming and defe
Mar 14, 2019  |  00:00

Matthews Gets the Clutch Putback

March 14, 2019: Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Indiana Pacers - Highlights
Mar 14, 2019  |  04:26

Postgame Wrap Up: Pacers-Thunder - March 14, 2019

March 14, 2019 - Pacers rally back from a 19 point deficit and hit a game-winning shot by Wesley Matthews to win 108-106 against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Mar 14, 2019  |  01:24

Postgame: Pacers Locker Room - March 14, 2019

March 14, 2019 - Pacers players Darren Collison, Wesley Matthews, Domantas Sabonis, Myles Turner, and Thaddeus Young discussed Indiana's 108-106 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Mar 14, 2019  |  05:04

Postgame: Nate McMillan Press Conference - March 14, 2019

March 14, 2019 - Pacers head coach Nate McMillan spoke to the media following Indiana's 108-106 incredible comeback win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse before the teams goes out on the road.
Mar 14, 2019  |  06:39

Sabonis Puts on a Clinic Down Low

March 14, 2019: Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Indiana Pacers - Highlights
Mar 14, 2019  |  03:49

Turner Dunks to Give Pacers the Lead

March 14, 2019: Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Indiana Pacers - Highlights
Mar 14, 2019  |  03:25

Collison Turns the Corner and Gets the Layup

March 14, 2019: Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Indiana Pacers - Highlights
Mar 14, 2019  |  03:03

Joseph Banks It From Halfcourt

March 14, 2019: Cory Joseph banks it in from halfcourt to beat the third quarter buzzer.
Mar 14, 2019  |  02:32

Turner's Dunk Finishes the Fastbreak

March 14, 2019: The Pacers convert on the fastbreak, with Myles Turner getting a wide-open dunk.
Mar 14, 2019  |  02:35

Collison Steals, Bogdanovic Scores

March 14, 2019: Darren Collison gets the steal and Bojan Bogdanovic hits the fastbreak layup.
Mar 14, 2019  |  02:38

Bogey With the Quick Bounce Pass to Turner

March 14, 2019: Bojan Bogdanovic slips the quick bounce pass to Myles Turner for the dunk.
Mar 14, 2019  |  02:23

Matthews Hits the Rainbow Finger Roll

March 14, 2019: Wesley Matthews drives and lofts the finger roll over the defense and in.
Mar 14, 2019  |  02:29

Sabonis Fakes the Handoff for the Layup

March 14, 2019: Domantas Sabonis fakes the handoff and drives it all the way to the rim.
Mar 14, 2019  |  02:34

Domas Goes to Work

March 14, 2019: Domantas Sabonis sets up on the block and hits the layup through contact.
Mar 14, 2019  |  02:20

DC Finds Bogey on the Run

March 14, 2019: Darren Collison gets out on the break and makes the nice pass to Bojan Bogdanovic for the 3-pointer.
Mar 14, 2019  |  02:34

Young Steps Aside, Pacers Step Up

by Mark Montieth
Pacers.com Writer
@MarkMontieth

Nate McMillan kept calling it the play of the game, and yet it wasn't a play at all. It was just a quiet moment amid the bedlam of the Pacers' stirring comeback from a 19-point deficit to Oklahoma City that resulted in their most meaningful victory of the season, noticed by nobody out of earshot in the team huddle.

With his team down 11 during a timeout with 6:25 left, McMillan subbed Thaddeus Young out of the game. Just for a couple of minutes, he told his captain, you'll be right back. But a couple of minutes later the Pacers had pulled within a point thanks to a 13-3 run, forcing a Thunder timeout with 4:04 remaining.

OK, McMillan told Young, go back in.

No way, Young said.

"I told him they had it rolling," Young said after the Pacers' 108-106 victory at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. "That unit was playing so well, so I told him let them rock out. Leave them in. He said, 'Stay ready.' I said, 'I'll be ready regardless, but let them play. They have a good flow going and I don't want to mess it up."

The Pacers needed a mountain of contributions in the improbable victory that returned them to third place in the Eastern Conference. From Domantas Sabonis' rally-igniting offensive work in the low post that resulted in a 26-point relief effort to Bojan Bogdanovic's steady 23-point outing to Darren Collison's all-out hustle and all-around goodness (17 points, six rebounds, seven assists, four steals) and, ultimately and dramatically, to Wesley Matthews' game-winning basket off a rebound with 1.8 seconds remaining.

PLAYOFF PICTURE: Track the Pacers' Playoff Push »

But Young's insistence on stepping aside to allow what was working to continue working — rocking out, if you will — exemplified the group effort required to build the perfect launching pad for their daunting four-game Western Conference road trip. It enabled Sabonis and Myles Turner to close out a game together for the first time. OKC was slow to react to Sabonis' low-post dominance, assigning center Steven Adams to Turner, who stood on the perimeter, while Sabonis went to work on smaller defenders.

Sabonis scored six points in the game's final 5 1/2 minutes, after scoring eight in the final 4:47 of the third period. He finished with his second-highest point total of the season and hit 12-of-13 foul shots.

"He had a mismatch while Myles was spreading the floor," Collison said. "We were just happy to give him the ball. It just seemed like that was our one way to break that defense."

And to think Sabonis likely would have been subbed out had Young taken up McMillan on the offer to return to the game for the final.

"We're calling it the play of the game," McMillan said.

"This is what we have to be about, supporting your teammates and encouraging your teammates. When guys have a rhythm, let 'em go and support that."

Six Pacers scored in double figures, enough balance to overcome OKC's three-star constellation. Paul George, making his second appearance in The Fieldhouse following his trade of two summers ago, finished with 36 points while hitting 6-of-11 3-pointers. Russell Westbrook had 19 points, 14 rebounds, and 11 assists, but missed the potential game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer. Steven Adams added 17 points and eight rebounds, and contained Sabonis after switching onto him too late.

The Pacers' comeback actually began late in the third period. Their 19-point deficit came with 7:18 left in the quarter, but they were still down 17 with 3:09 remaining and 10 after George's free throws with 1.9 seconds left. Cory Joseph then fired an ominous bomb from 46 feet, about five behind the midcourt line at the buzzer, to make it a seven-point game.

The Thunder got their lead back to 11 midway through the final period before the Pacers closed out the game with a first-time lineup combination that got something important from everyone.

Collison scored their 98th point on an aggressive driving layup, which forced the timeout at 4:04. He turned to the fans, held up his arms and screamed, then slapped hands with a fan on the sideline. After the timeout, Sabonis scored the 100th point on two foul shots after drawing a questionable flagrant foul call on Dennis Schröder. Turner later scored the 102nd point on a dunk off Bogdanovic's feed. Bogdanovic scored the 104th point on a layup after beating George and Adams to the basket. Sabonis added the 106th point on a spinning layup while Adams was otherwise occupied with 57.1 seconds left.

Wesley Matthews, Paul George

Photo Credit: NBAE/Getty Images

And then Matthews capped it all off with big plays at both ends. With the game tied after Sabonis' layup, he crawled into George's DNA on the perimeter, first swatting the ball away and then forcing George to step out of bounds after recovering it. Bogdanovic threw the ball away on an ill-informed pass, but Collison immediately intercepted George's pass.

After a timeout with 23.2 seconds left, Bodganovic let the clock run down before going one-on-one with George. He dribbled to his left and put up a fading 16-footer an oncoming Adams while Turner stood out front at the 3-point line jumping up and down in anticipation of a pass. Bogdanovic's shot flew long, but Matthew flew in from the right side and scored over Westbrook for the game-winner.

"We don't have an All-Star on our team," Collison said. "Some of these teams have two, three, four All-Stars. For us to get a win like this as a collective group meant a lot."

The lone All-Star on the Pacers' roster, Victor Oladipo, was in Miami, rehabbing the season-ending injury suffered on Jan. 23. He, like Sabonis, came to the Pacers in the trade for George. He texted Sabonis after the game.

And said?

"Tears of joy in his eyes, and he's happy for me," Sabonis said.

There were no tears in the Pacers' locker room. It was just one of 82, after all. But it was unquestionably a big one. They had lost four of their previous eight games, including decisive defeats at Milwaukee and Philadelphia. Another one-sided loss to Oklahoma City would have left them with little justification for confidence heading into the trip that runs through Denver, Portland, Los Angeles to play the Clippers, and Golden State.

Consider it one for the road, and a strong one at that.

"That's a win that we needed," Matthews said. "We needed a win against a playoff team, because that's what we've got going forward."


Have a question for Mark? Want it to be on Pacers.com? Email him at askmontieth@gmail.com and you could be featured in his next mailbag.

Mark Montieth's book on the formation and groundbreaking seasons of the Pacers, "Reborn: The Pacers and the Return of Pro Basketball to Indianapolis," is available in bookstores throughout Indiana and on Amazon.com.

Note: The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Indiana Pacers. All opinions expressed by Mark Montieth are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Indiana Pacers, their partners, or sponsors.