Game Recap: Pacers 95, Thunder 61

The Pacers defeated the Thunder, 95-61. Chris Duarte led all scorers with 19 points, four rebounds and four assists for the Pacers, while Isaiah Jackson added 12 points, four rebounds and two blocks i

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Game Recap: Pacers 95, Thunder 61

The Pacers defeated the Thunder, 95-61. Chris Duarte led all scorers with 19 points, four rebounds and four assists for the Pacers, while Isaiah Jackson added 12 points, four rebounds and two blocks i
Aug 14, 2021  |  00:01

Postgame: Pacers Locker Room - Aug. 14, 2021

Aug. 14, 2021 - Summer League head coach Mike Weinar, guard Keifer Sykes, and forward Isaiah Jackson speak to the media following Indiana's 95-61 Summer League win over the Thunder.
Aug 14, 2021  |  02:10

Sykes To Jackson

Aug. 14, 2021 - Keifer Sykes connects with Isaiah Jackson on the lob.
Aug 14, 2021  |  00:09

Another Trey for Duarte

Aug. 14, 2021 - Chris Duarte knocks down the three in the closing seconds of the first half.
Aug 14, 2021  |  00:09

Duarte to Stanley

Aug. 14, 2021 - Chris Duarte draws the triple team and finds a wide-open Cassius Stanley for the easy slam.
Aug 14, 2021  |  00:11

Duarte Steal and Dunk

Aug. 14, 2021 - Chris Duarte jumps the passing lane and throws down a two-hand slam.
Aug 14, 2021  |  00:11

Duarte to Jackson Alley Oop

Aug. 14, 2021 - First-round picks Chris Duarte and Isaiah Jackson connect on an alley oop for the first points of Saturday's Summer League contest.
Aug 14, 2021  |  00:09

Game Rewind: Pacers 95, Thunder 61 (Summer League)

by Brendan Rourke
Pacers.com Contributor

The Pacers picked up their second consecutive Summer League victory after silencing the Oklahoma City Thunder, 95-61, Saturday night in Las Vegas, Nevada. Thanks to another great Pacers defensive effort, the Thunder finished 21-of-68 from the field and failed to score more than 18 points in a quarter.

"The coaches instilled (defensive presence) in us," said Isaiah Jackson (12 points, four rebounds, two blocks). "But also, as players, we know defense comes first. The scoring is going to take care of itself."

It was another impressive all-around showing for the 13th overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, Chris Duarte. The 24-year-old finished with a game-high 19 points on 7-of-15 shooting, including 3-of-4 from deep. He also tallied four boards, four assists, and two steals.

"I'm sure it sounds like a broken record, but (it's) his eagerness," Pacers Summer League head coach Mike Weinar said of what impresses him the most from Duarte. "His eagerness to play, his eagerness to learn, his eagerness to be a part of what we're doing in the organization."

"He's eager to do all those things, and we are eager to have him and be a part of it, too."

PHOTO GALLERY: Pacers 95, Thunder 61 »v

Not to be outdone, Keifer Sykes, whose game-winning shot clinched the $1 million prize in The Basketball Tournament earlier this month, notched 14 points on an efficient 6-of-10 shooting and dished out four assists.

"It's a fun group of guys," Sykes said postgame. "We're sacrificing for each other, taking charges in the fourth quarter when we're up 30 — diving on the floor. We gave up a lot of offensive rebounds, but our energy and our play is inspiring us — and it's contagious."

First-round picks Duarte and Jackson wasted no time showing off their skills once again. Duarte found a cutting Jackson for a one-handed alley-oop slam to open the game's scoring. The Oregon product then added a bucket of his own, a swift 19-foot jumper. The duo was responsible for all eight Pacers points before the first TV timeout at the 5:31 mark.

Similar to their bout against the Portland Trail Blazers, the squad played tough defense early.

The Thunder started just 3-of-16 from the field, including 1-of-9 from beyond the arc. The team on the floor appeared in sync, rotating swiftly and closing out drives. After Amida Brimah notched a block, Tyrone Wallace found Duane Washington Jr. for a corner triple to give the Pacers a 15-9 lead. A small 5-0 Thunder spree closed the gap. But, Indiana ended the first with an advantage.

The Thunder used the quarter-ending run to snag a few slim leads. But the Pacers continued to have the answers early. Indiana used seven unanswered to regain a 26-21 lead at the 5:58 mark. During the run, Washington knocked in his second corner three. Then, Duarte dished a nifty backdoor bounce pass to Cassius Stanley for an easy flush.

Although the Thunder tied the score at 26, threes from Duarte and Sykes helped push the Pacers ahead 34-28 with 2:57 to go. A late triple from Duarte then gave Indiana a 43-32 lead before halftime.

Both teams started hot offensively in the third. But thanks to the halftime edge Indiana held its lead. Five straight from Duarte in a 0:28 span pushed the Pacers' lead to 54-39 at the 6:34 mark. But the Thunder struck back quickly. Former Wake Forest forward Jaylen Hoard knocked in back-to-back treys to trim Indiana’s lead to nine.

Later, it was Brimah and Stanley that helped extend the Blue & Gold's lead. Brimah finished off a Sykes dish with a two-handed flush, while Stanley collected a block and finished a layup on the other end. Indiana led 60-47 with 4:01 left in the third.

From there, the Pacers managed to hold onto a double-digit lead until the end of the third. Sykes knocked in a long 28-foot 3-pointer at the 2:59 mark, adding to his impressive night. Then, to close out the frame, a gutsy effort in the paint from rookie Terry Taylor led to a putback hook shot that gave Indiana a 67-50 lead heading into the final frame.

Showing no signs of slowing down, the Pacers started the fourth with 10 unanswered points, effectively pulling away for good. Jackson and Jordan Bone found buckets, while Stanley added four from the charity stripe. Indiana's lead swelled to 77-50 before Aaron Wiggins scored the first Thunder points with 6:20 remaining. They did not threaten Indiana's lead for the remainder of the game. Indiana's defense held Oklahoma City to just 11 points in the frame.

Despite having different paths to get here, the trio of Duarte, Jackson, and Sykes has developed a chemistry over these Summer League games. Although the Blue & Gold fell short in their first two games, the trio corrected their mistakes and has proven their worth as of late. Indiana's final Summer League game will take place at 3 p.m. Eastern time. They will square off against the Washington Wizards.

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