Indiana Freeze-Out – Cold Shooting Thunder Drops Road Game

Nick Gallo

By Nick Gallo | Broadcast Reporter & Digital Editor |

Game Recap: Thunder 85, Pacers 111

Playing in its fourth game in six nights, the Thunder struggled offensively in the first half, paving an opening for Indiana to explode offensively in the third quarter. With temperatures in Indianapolis hovering around 4 degrees, the Thunder was ice cold on both ends of the floor. For the first time this season, the Thunder couldn’t make it a tight game in the fourth quarter.

Game Flow

Indiana landed the first couple of punches, surrounding a 10-2 Thunder run with 6-0 and 7-0 runs of their own in the first quarter. It was still anybody’s game heading into the second period, but the Thunder’s offense went ice cold, in part because the lane was completely clogged with Pacers defenders. The Thunder missed some passes back out to the perimeter on the weakside and when it did drive, it got caught in no-man’s land.

“We definitely struggled on offense,” said Head Coach Billy Donovan. “They were physical with us in terms of cutting with our movement and bumping us off cuts, bumping us away from screens.”

Beginning the third quarter, the Thunder’s issues compounded as the Pacers got white hot from the field, particularly T.J. Warren who burned OKC’s defense with running push shots from around the free throw line on multiple occasions. Warren led all scorers with 23 points on 10-of-14 shooting and was backed up by former NBA Rookie of the Year Malcolm Brogdon, who scored 20 points.

“Warren really got going that stretch there,” Donovan said. “We just couldn’t get some stops to really get back in the game. That’s what really dug the hole.”

Meanwhile, the Thunder struggled badly in the paint and from behind the arc, making just 41 percent of its shots in the paint in the game and going just 1-of-18 from behind the arc through three quarters.

Decisive Moments

Indiana was in control heading into halftime, but the Thunder’s chances in this one evaporated with each of the Pacers’ 14 made field goals to begin the third quarter, which came on just 18 shot attempts. Coming into the game, the Thunder’s defense was giving up just 25 points each on average in the first, second and fourth quarters, but 30 points on average in third quarters. That trend continued on Tuesday as Indiana’s offense hummed to 34 points coming out of the locker room at halftime.

“It looks like the same story for us in the third quarter,” said Chris Paul, who finished with 7 points, 8 assists, 5 rebounds and 3 steals. “It starts with me; We’ve got to figure out that third quarter and if we do that, the tide will change.”

Play of the Game

Steven Adams held the ball at the elbow, scoping the floor for a teammate. It just so happened that a 6-foot-10 cutter rushed right behind him and into his peripheral vision. Danilo Gallinari’s defender was a step too slow as Gallinari turned the corner around Adams and cut towards the rim. The Thunder’s 7-foot center dropped a perfectly placed bounce pass underneath his own defender’s arm and into Gallinari’s hands, resulting in a two-handed slam dunk.

“The defense, they stand above (Gallinari) because they feel like he’ll pop back out to three anyway,” Adams said, explaining the set up to the dunk. “He did the right read. He came off me, the (defender) played him high-side. I just saw him and dropped it off. He did all the work.”
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Stat of the Night

2 The Thunder began the second quarter with just 2-of-14 shooting from the field. While a stout defensive effort led by Nerlens Noel (three blocks and two steals in the game) held the Pacers to just 21 points in the quarter, the Thunder only managed 17 and couldn’t dig into the lead. In fact, the Thunder made just one field goal during a six-minute stretch in the second period, with six layups in a row just sliding off the rim and out.

““We had a lot of layups and easy shots that weren’t going and we couldn’t slow their offense down,” said Paul.

Quotes of the Night

Chris Paul“Unfortunately it’s night’s like this, one of those ones you throw it out the window and get ready for Friday.” –Chris Paul

“It always goes back to, ‘how do you get an easier shot?’ That’s with movement and pace, the speed of the game. Offense, it needs to ramp up.” -Steven Adams

Looking Ahead

The Thunder, now 4-7, will get a recovery day on Wednesday to ice their knees and recharge before practicing on Thursday and hosting the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday at Chesapeake Energy Arena. It’ll be the third-straight Eastern Conference foe for the Thunder.


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