Lu Dort
(Zach Beeker | OKC Thunder)

Game Recap: Thunder vs. Pacers

By Paris Lawson | Broadcast and Digital Reporter | okcthunder.com

Highlights: OKC vs. IND

THE BIG PICTURE

It took a grand total of 18 lead changes, nine ties and 53 minutes of game time to determine a winner between the Thunder and the Pacers on Friday. The two teams competed in a tightly contested contest inside of Paycom Center that resulted in the Thunder’s first overtime game of the season before the Pacers escaped with a slim 113-110 victory. 

MOMENTS FROM THE 48

Back-and-Forth Battle

There were seven lead changes and two ties in the first quarter alone between the Thunder and the Pacers. While Indiana took the early edge in the form of a six-point lead, the Thunder found its offensive rhythm thanks to its efforts on the defensive end. OKC forced seven Indy turnovers which led to eight points in transition and helped the Thunder increase its pace of play against the matchup zone that the Pacers presented. 

“I felt like we came out in the game with a lot of intensity defensively,” said Thunder guard Lu Dort. “We followed the scouting report at a high level.”

By halftime the Thunder led 10-0 in both fast break points and points off turnovers and held a mere three-point lead. Coming out of the break, the Thunder poured gas on the fire and ignited on a 12-0 run to build up its largest lead of the night – 16 points. 

“We came out ready to play,” said Thunder rookie Josh Giddey. “We executed offensively, got good looks and we made them. Defensively, we switched, rotated quick, played our coverages well.”

From that point, what was once an up-tempo ball game slowed to a crawl as fouls and official reviews peppered the back half of the quarter. This allowed Indiana to chip its way back into the ball game by way of an extended 18-7 run to close the gap to single digits heading into the final quarter. 

The two teams exchanged blows in the final quarter to the tune of four additional lead changes and two extra ties and fitting to the nature of the matchup – the score was even at the final buzzer. 

First Overtime of the Season

With the score knotted up 100-100, it was the Thunder who took the edge in the final frame. On back-to-back occasions, the Thunder’s defense forced an Indiana shot clock violation and after each defensive stop, Thunder guard Lu Dort sank a 3-pointer on the other end. The string of possessions put the Thunder ahead six before the first timeout.

However, after the Thunder pulled ahead, Indiana closed the final two minutes of overtime on an 11-2 run. The Thunder had its chances in the waning moments to extend the ball game but was unable to convert. 

Overall, the young Thunder gained another new entry in its rolodex of experiences – its first overtime game of the season and a prolonged contest that extended two hours and thirty-two minutes.

“Good experience,” said Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault. “We did a lot of good things, made a lot of progress and there’s a lot to be optimistic about and then there's obviously a lot of opportunities to improve after a game like that. We were one play away from winning that one.”

(Coby Van Loan | OKC Thunder)

Lu Leads the Way

Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander left the game at the 10-minute mark of the third quarter with an ankle sprain and did not return. It was a next man up mentality in his absence and Thunder wing Lu Dort stepped up to the plate. Dort was responsible for back-to-back 3-pointers in overtime that gave the Thunder a six-point lead and finished the game with a game-high 27 points, eight rebounds and four assists – the first time in his career with such a stat line. 

“When you are on the court and you see Lu next to you, it just gives you a sense of confidence, energy, makes you a little tougher,” said Thunder guard Ty Jerome. “He was huge for us on both ends of the court tonight and that's who he is. He's a competitor. He's fearless. He's a big shot taker. He big shot maker. He's growing offensively. He's already one of the best in the league, if not the best in the league on the ball defensively.”

THE LAST WORD

WHAT'S NEXT

Friday’s matchup marked the only game in a five-day stretch for the Thunder who enjoyed a three-day break prior to the matchup and will soak up the weekend before their next tilt. OKC will close out its homestand on Monday night against the Portland Trailblazers before setting out on a three-game road trip.