Pacers at Thunder

Pacers vs. Thunder

Paul George scores 22 points and adds ten assists as the Pacers rally to edge the Thunder, 101-98.

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Pacers vs. Thunder

Paul George scores 22 points and adds ten assists as the Pacers rally to edge the Thunder, 101-98.
Feb 19, 2016  |  02:30

Turner Huge Block

Myles Turner gets the clean block on Enes Kanter.
Feb 19, 2016  |  00:12

Mahinmi And-One

Ian Mahinmi gets hacked but gets the layup high off the glass to go down.
Feb 19, 2016  |  00:16

Young Steal And Slam

Joe Young gets the steal and goes all the way for the one-hand slam.
Feb 19, 2016  |  00:21

Mahinmi Throws It Down

Paul George finds Ian Mahinmi on the break for the one-hand finish.
Feb 19, 2016  |  00:23

Game Rewind: Pacers 101, Thunder 98

Friday, February 19, 2016 at 8:00 PM ET at Chesapeake Energy Arena
by Wheat Hotchkiss
Pacers.com Writer/Editor
@Wheat_Hotchkiss






Game Recap

The Pacers' playoff push is off to a fantastic start. Monta Ellis hit a 3-pointer over Dion Waiters with 18.8 seconds remaining that broke a 95-95 tie and lifted Indiana (29-25) to a 101-98 road win over the Oklahoma City Thunder (40-15) in their first game after the All-Star break.

The win was a huge confidence boost for the Pacers, who had struggled to beat good teams on the road over the past two months. Prior to Friday's contest, the Blue & Gold hadn't beaten a team with a winning record on the road since they topped the Clippers in Los Angeles on Dec. 2.

The Thunder, meanwhile, had won seven of their last eight and 14 of their last 16 contests before Friday.

"It's a big win," Pacers All-Star Paul George told FOX Sports Indiana's Jeremiah Johnson after the game. "This is a good team, especially playing on their floor. They play well here."

Head coach Frank Vogel agreed: "Hopefully this is a springboard victory."

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Though they were playing their first game in nine days, the Pacers showed no signs of rust in the early going. Indiana's offense was firing on all cylinders, with George distributing, Ian Mahinmi and Myles Turner scoring in the post, and Ellis knocking down shots on the perimeter. The Blue & Gold led by as many as seven points in the first quarter.

But the Thunder surged in front in the second, reeling off 12 unanswered points to open up a double-digit lead. Oklahoma City maintained its advantage into the fourth quarter, but could never create enough separation to put the Pacers away.

Indiana eventually tied the game at 82 with seven minutes to play, as George dished to Turner for the tying layup.

The Thunder, however, answered quickly. Kevin Durant knocked down a jumper just 12 seconds later and then Russell Westbrook went coast-to-coast after a Turner miss for a layup that pushed the Thunder's lead back to four.

OKC extended its lead to seven before George Hill and Monta Ellis knocked down back-to-back threes to make it 93-92 with 1:53 to play. Indiana forced a turnover on the ensuing possession and had three shots within five feet of the basket that could have given the Pacers a lead, but couldn't convert.

Westbrook knocked down two free throws on the other end before Turner hit arguably the biggest shot of his young career. The 6-11 rookie spotted up in the right corner, took a dish from Ellis, and calmly knocked down his first NBA 3-pointer to tie the game at 95 with 55.4 seconds remaining.

"Man, that kid is ready," George said. "He's ready for the big moment."

Durant missed a 3-pointer on the other end, setting the stage for Ellis' heroics.

Ellis, who's taken most of the last-second shots in tie games over the course of the season, knocked down a 27-foot fadeaway over Waiters' arms to give Indiana its first lead since the 8:08 mark in the second quarter.

"I like being in those situations," Ellis told ESPN after the victory.

After a George free throw, Durant's three with 5.9 seconds left cut the Pacers' lead to one. George knocked down two more free throws and Westbrook's leaner at the buzzer missed, sealing arguably Indiana's biggest win of the season.

Ellis led the Pacers with 27 points, going 10-for-16 from the field. George added 22 points and a season-high 10 assists. Mahinmi provided an unexpected scoring punch, matching his career high with 19 points and 11 rebounds.

Turner chipped in 16 points, including his clutch 3-pointer, but he was just as effective on the defensive end. The 19-year-old rookie swatted a career-high six shots in the win, with five of his blocks coming in the third quarter.

"I think Myles and Ian together out there is a pretty potent defensive frontcourt," Vogel said. "There were a couple (times) that I felt like both of those guys got a block on a possession. That's who we want to be, a team that protects the paint with great rim protection."

Fifth starter George Hill very quietly nearly registered his second career triple-double, finishing the evening with nine points, 11 boards, and nine assists.

Durant led all scorers with 31 points and eight rebounds. Westbrook was also excellent in the loss, finishing with 23 points and a season-high 18 assists.

The Pacers' three-game road trip continues on Sunday night in Orlando. They also visit Miami on Monday before returning home to host the New York Knicks on Wednesday, Feb. 24.

Inside the Numbers

Mahinmi's 19 points were the most he's ever scored in a Pacers uniform and matched his career high, set on Dec. 30, 2011 while playing for the Dallas Mavericks.

Both Paul George and George Hill set season highs for assists. George dished out 10, while Hill added nine in the victory.

Turner's six blocks were one more than his previous best, set just a few weeks ago on Jan. 23 in Denver.

Westbrook's 18 assists were the most by any player against the Pacers in nearly 10 years. Raymond Felton dished out 19 assists for Charlotte against the Blue & Gold on Dec. 30, 2006.

Indiana won despite a season-low eight bench points. Their previous low was 13, set on Nov. 8 in Cleveland.

You Can Quote Me On That

"We just kept grinding. We came together as a team, got stops, made shots on the other end, and came away with the win." -Ellis on the final minutes

"Early on we would have lost a game like this. We're just now finding ways to make enough plays down the stretch. I thought we did that on both ends, made some key stops defensively and offensively." -George

"Sometimes, we kind of settle for jumpers and stuff like that, and I felt like this time guys were in attack mode and just ready to shoot the ball." -Mahinmi

"To come in here and get a big win like that, we knew it could catapult us to a great second half of the season. -Hill

"He's an under-two-minute player and you need guys like that when you're trying to make a deep push." -George on Ellis

"Defensive lapses towards the end of the game, we can’t have those. Second half of the season and getting close to playoff time we have got to put more pressure on ourselves to get better." -Westbrook

Stat of the Night

Vogel said after the game that he was most proud of the Pacers' defensive effort. Prior to Friday, Oklahoma City, the second-highest scoring team in the NBA, had topped 100 points in 12 consecutive contests and averaged 116.7 points over their last 10 games.

The Pacers held the Thunder to 98 points overall and just 22 in the fourth quarter.

Noteworthy

  • Friday's win snapped the Pacers' five-game losing streak in Oklahoma City. They last won in the Sooner State on April 5, 2009.
  • With the win, Indiana is now 23-4 on the year when holding its opponent under 100 points.
  • C.J. Miles, the Pacers' top-scoring reserve, did not play due to a stomach virus.
  • Durant has now scored 20 or more points in 40 straight games, the longest active streak in the NBA.

Up Next

The Pacers head to Orlando to take on the Magic on Sunday, Feb. 21 at 6:00 PM ET.

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