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Game Rewind: Pacers 111, Thunder 115

Game Recap

Paul George put together one of the best performances of his career on Saturday night, but it wasn't quite enough as Oklahoma City's two All-Stars one-upped him to lead the Thunder (48-22) to a 115-111 win over the Pacers (36-33) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

George topped 40 points for the fourth time in his career, finishing the night with 47 points on 14-of-29 shooting, seven rebounds, four assists, and two steals.

But on the other end, Russell Westbrook recorded his NBA-leading 14th triple-double of the season and his running mate Kevin Durant flirted with one of his own in the Thunder's victory. Westbrook had 14 points, 11 rebounds, and 14 assists, making up for a 4-for-17 shooting performance with his all-around play. Durant led the Thunder with 33 points on 11-of-20 shooting and also added 13 boards and eight assists.

"It's one of the best duos in the league," Pacers point guard George Hill said after the loss. "I think we did an alright job of handling them early. I think Kevin got away from us a little bit late. I think our guys fought hard, we just didn’t get to pull out the win."

Lavoy Allen's floater gave Indiana a 98-97 lead with 8:28 remaining, but Randy Foye's 3-pointer 25 seconds later started a string of nine unanswered points by the Thunder. Oklahoma City never let the Pacers get back within one possession of the lead until the final minute.

Indiana admirably rallied from an eight-point deficit over the final 1:41 and got a chance to tie after Ian Mahinmi secured the rebound off a Durant miss with 13 seconds remaining. George got a look from the left corner, but his shot came up just short as Thunder center Steven Adams switched over to contest the shot. Westbrook tapped the rebound out to Durant, who sealed the win at the free throw line.

"They were dialed into the action and just switched it," George said. "I should have known the switch was going to come and got my feet set for a better look."

The Pacers executed beautifully on the offensive end in the early going, getting a barrage of wide open 3-point attempts. George knocked down a triple on Indiana's opening possession and George Hill quickly added two more. Before you could barely blink, Indiana led 13-2 not even three minutes into the contest.

George and Hill continued to keep the offense rolling through the first quarter. The G2 Zone duo combined for 17 points and six assists in the opening period, but the Thunder also got rolling.

After their first four possessions ended in a pair of misses and a pair of turnovers, Oklahoma City knocked down 11 of their final 17 shots in the first quarter and made up nearly all of their early deficit, as the Pacers took a narrow 28-27 lead into the second frame.

OKC surged in front midway through the second period with a 16-3 run that featured four straight assists from Westbook. The Thunder led by as many as 13 points in the first half and shot 58.5 percent from the field to take a 64-54 lead into the locker room.

But George took over in the third quarter to key the Pacers' comeback. PG got to the line early and often in the period, knocking down 7-of-8 free throws over a 4:20 stretch.

That seemed to put him in a rhythm, as the three-time All-Star knocked down several big shots over the next few minutes. George hit a three to make it 83-82 with 2:22 left in the quarter, made another trey to tie the game at 85 just 45 seconds later, then gave Indiana its first lead of the second half on his layup with 32.6 seconds left in the period.

All told, George scored 19 points in the third quarter, going 5-for-10 from the field, 2-for-2 from beyond the arc, and 7-for-8 from the charity stripe.

"He was great in all areas," Pacers head coach Frank Vogel said. "I don't think he forced much. When he got hot, we kept going to him."

The two teams traded punches over the next several minutes. Durant buried a deep three that gave OKC a one-point lead heading into the fourth quarter and the two sides traded the lead six times in the first four minutes of the final frame.

In addition to George's big night, the Pacers got a nice performance from Hill, who finished with 20 points and nine assists.

Mahinmi returned to the lineup after sitting out Thursday's overtime loss to Toronto with a sore lower back. The fashionable Frenchman finished with 11 points and five boards. Fellow starters Monta Ellis (11 points, six rebounds, seven assists) and Myles Turner (10 points and eight boards) also finished the night in double figures.

The Pacers continue their five-game homestand next week, when they host the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday and the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday.

After Saturday's loss, Indiana remains in seventh place in the Eastern Conference but is now just a half-game ahead of both Chicago and Detroit. The Pacers do, however, have a favorable closing schedule, with only three of their final 13 games against teams that currently have a winning record.

"We've got to win these games," Vogel said. "Teams we're playing dont have great records but we have to take care of business."

Inside the Numbers

George topped 40 points for the third time this season after only accomplishing the feat once in his first five NBA seasons. He scored 40 in a win in Washington on Nov. 24, then poured in a career-high 48 in an overtime loss in Utah on Dec. 5. George is the first player in NBA franchise history to score 40 or more points three times in one season.

George knocked down 4-of-10 3-pointers to set a new career high for threes in one season. He has now made 186 treys on the year, third-most by a Pacers player in a single season.

Saturday's contest was the fifth time this season that all five Pacers starters scored in double figures. They are only 2-3 on such occasions.

Enes Kanter had a double-double off the bench for the Thunder, finishing with 15 points and 10 rebounds.

Oklahoma City's bench outscored Indiana's reserves, 45-14. Rodney Stuckey had eight points in 15:22 off the bench for the Pacers, but Solomon Hill, Jordan Hill, C.J. Miles, and Lavoy Allen combined for just six points in 36:32.

You Can Quote Me On That

"We can beat the best teams in the league. We feel like we're very capable of doing that as long as we play as hard as we can. We've got to take it one game at a time and impose our will." -Turner

"(Durant) did a great job of confidently shooting the ball. He's one of the best one-on-one offensive players in the league. We put it to the test tonight but they got the better end of it. With us, it's not about who we're playing, it's about habits. We’ve got to tighten the screws." -George

"Tonight we kept grinding and we trusted the process. With a back-to-back coming in here against a team who beat us out of the break, makes it an even better win." -Durant

"I just try to find a way to insert my way into the game. When my shots are not falling, I try to help out by rebounding, passing, making plays for others." -Westbrook

Stat of the Night

Westbrook and Durant combined for 47 points, 14 rebounds, and 22 assists. They were two assists from Durant shy of becoming just the third pair of teammates to record triple-doubles in the same game (Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen did it in 1989, while Jason Kidd and Vince Carter duplicated the feat in 2007).

Still, Westbrook made history by becoming the first player to record 14 or more triple-doubles in a season in over 25 years. The last time it happened was all the way back in the 1988-89 campaign, when Michael Jordan did it 15 times and Magic Johnson accomplished the feat on 17 occasions.

Noteworthy

  • Pacers point guard Ty Lawson dressed but did not play for the fifth straight game due to a sprained left foot.
  • Indiana is 1-14 on the year when their opponent shoots 50 percent or better from the field. Oklahoma City is 22-2 when posting a .500 or better field goal percentage.
  • The Thunder won in Indiana for the first time since April 5, 2013. The Pacers had beaten OKC at the Fieldhouse in each of the past two season.

Up Next

The Pacers host the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday, March 21 at 7:00 PM. Find Tickets »