Looking to brush off a tough loss, the Pacers traveled to Oklahoma City to play the Thunder for the first time this season.
Showing extreme spirit, Indiana fought through its miscues, scratching and clawing for every extra point and board possible. In the end, the effort paid off. The Blue & Gold defeated the Thunder, 113-110 in overtime.
"It was a night of many frustrations," Rick Carlisle said. "But in the end, it was a night of great joy because of how the guys stuck to it, and stuck together."
Indiana (18-32) trailed by as many as 16 in the third quarter before climbing back. In the extra frame, Luguentz Dort knocked in back-to-back threes to give Oklahoma City (14-34) a 108-102 lead. However, Jeremy Lamb, Domantas Sabonis, and Justin Holiday contributed to the gutsy comeback.
Lamb started with five straight. Then, Sabonis fought for three consecutive offensive boards to earn a tough putback. Finally, Holiday pushed Indiana ahead with a steal-and-finish. The iron-man also put the game on ice at the free-throw line.
The trio led the squad on an otherwise off-shooting night. Sabonis tallied a monstrous 24-point, 18-rebound, 10-assist triple-double. Holiday added 22 points on 8-of-12 shooting and five boards, and Lamb recorded a bench-high 14 points. Dort had a game-high 27 for Oklahoma City.
"I'm proud of the whole team," Sabonis said. "We were down three times in the game big. Just to come back and keep fighting...Caris (LeVert) and Jeremy Lamb late were big time. Very clutch."
The Pacers started solidly on the offensive end, finding spaces in the paint. Tied at four, the Blue & Gold mounted a 9-3 run that elicited the Thunder's first timeout. Sabonis and Holiday teamed up for the early highlight. The big man fired a bounce pass through two defenders to his wingman for a reverse dunk with 7:56 to play.
However, the Thunder began capitalizing on numerous Pacer turnovers. Rookie sensation Josh Giddey tallied two buckets and an assist on an 8-0 Thunder run that earned an 18-15 lead with 3:22 left.
Down the stretch, the squads remained in close combat. Lance Stephenson provided a spark with four points, while Lamb and Oshae Brissett did damage from deep. Brissett’s triple with 15.6 seconds to go set up the Pacers for a halftime lead. But, Mike Muscala retaliated with 1.6 seconds to spare to give the hosts a 30-29 edge.
A low-scoring start to the second produced a 34-34 tie until Sabonis banked in a layup at the 7:11 mark. Before that, the lone offense came from two-way player Terry Taylor. The rookie forward battled for two quick buckets in the paint.
A Holiday trey pushed Indiana’s lead to five. However, a 12-3 Thunder run – seven from Darius Bazley – gave the hosts a 46-42 advantage with 3:25 remaining.
The Blue & Gold battled back to tie the score at 48. But, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander knocked in four straight to push the Thunder ahead again. The hosts led 54-51 at halftime.
Out of the break, the Thunder ignited. The Thunder knocked in eight unanswered in the first 1:25 of the quarter, extending their lead to 11. Muscala and Tre Mann anchored the run with a pair of threes.
A timeout did not invoke a rebuttal. The Thunder stretched their lead to as many as 15 before Duarte stopped the run at the 7:36 mark. His 3-point dart from the right side provided the first Pacers points of the frame. The squad tallied just three more points over the next three minutes.
Yet, the defense kept Oklahoma City from expanding the margin. Finally, Taylor and Brissett found points to cut the Thunder’s lead to 70-61 with 3:38 left.
From there, the Pacers scratched and clawed their way back into it. Using free throws and toughness in the paint, the squad trimmed the deficit to 74-70 with 1:39 to play. On one sequence, Indiana battled for four offensive rebounds – two by Brissett – to earn a tough bucket.
However, the three-ball favored Oklahoma City as the quarter closed. Triples from Ty Jerome and Kenrich Williams negated late three-point plays from Sabonis and Lamb. The Thunder claimed an 80-73 edge after three quarters.
Indiana started seeing shots fall to begin the fourth. Using treys from Holiday and Brissett, the squad rattled off an 8-2 run to cut the gap to 82-81 with 9:20 remaining.
At the 8:43 mark, Sabonis muscled the rock away from his defenders and flipped in a hook shot to give Indiana a one-point lead.
But Jerome tallied five unanswered to flip the script once more.
Indiana cut the deficit to one, twice, but the Thunder held on for a spell. Finally, with 4:25 to play, Caris LeVert knocked in a three – his first – to give the Pacers a 94-91 advantage.
The Thunder retaliated with an 8-2 run to take a 100-96 lead. But, Indiana battled back again. Sabonis hauled in an offensive board for a putback to tie the game at 100 with 55.6 seconds to go.
Thanks to two more offensive boards, the Pacers had two chances to seal the win. But, Lamb and LeVert came up short on their shot attempts. The squads headed to overtime.
After trading baskets, Dort pushed the Thunder in front with a three. When Indiana misfired, he added another. Oklahoma City led 108-102 as Rick Carlisle called a timeout with 2:27 to play.
After Lamb's five, Sabonis' gutsy putback, and Holiday's game-changing steal, Indiana held a 111-110 lead with 40.8 seconds remaining.
After a Thunder timeout, a wild sequence of events occurred. Mann missed a floater, and Brissett hauled in the rebound. But Indiana had trouble getting the ball over halfcourt. Throwing up a prayer, Mann picked off the pass. Oklahoma City had two chances at the rim but somehow came up empty.
"Sometimes, you get rewarded when you play hard and play together," Holiday laughed.
Inside the Numbers
The Pacers fought off 21 turnovers.
The Blue & Gold dominated the boards, 60-43.
Terry Taylor finished with eight points on 4-of-6 shooting, five boards, and a +7 rating in 7:19 of action.
You Can Quote Me On That
"It was much-needed. To have a game like that in our building, in front of our fans, it’s not what we want to experience. It was tough. We had a good practice yesterday. We came for a shootaround today. In many of these situations on the road, we'll bypass a shootaround. But we just really wanted to focus on the things that we needed to." –Carlisle on the win's meaning after Wednesday’s loss
"His presence, you can see it. When he gets that ball and so many guys are down there trying to stop him, he’s able to score. He’s able to pass the ball and that shows what he can do." –Holiday on Sabonis' impact
Stat of the Night
Indiana set new season highs for total rebounds (60) and offensive rebounds (19)
- Both Chris Duarte (ankle) and Goga Bitadze (foot) left the game early with injuries and did not return.
- The Pacers have won five straight against the Thunder dating back to 2019.
- Indiana halted a three-game losing streak and extended Oklahoma City's skid to seven games.
The Pacers travel to Dallas to take on Luka Doncic and the Mavericks on the second night of a back-to-back on Saturday, Jan. 29 at 7:00 PM ET.
The Pacers return to Gainbridge Fieldhouse to tip off a three-game homestand against the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday, Jan. 31 at 7:00 PM ET. Find Tickets »