Game Recap: Thunder 100, Pacers 107
Shooting numbers were nearly identical for both teams, which meant it was a battle on defense down the stretch. After 13 lead changes, the Thunder was unable to string together stops while the Pacers snagged critical second chance points to take the win.
The fans in Chesapeake Energy Arena didn’t have to stand long for the second straight home game thanks to the immediate scoring effort of Steven Adams. The Big Kiwi early dominated in the paint yet again racking up 12 first quarter points behind a perfect 5-5 from the field and 2-2 from the free throw line.
“He’s really establishing really good post position,” said Thunder head coach Billy Donovan. “He’s gotten some opportunities to roll and we’ve found him at the basket. He’s offensive rebounding and he’s made his free throws.
Not far behind Adams was Pacers guard, Malcolm Brogdon who racked up 10 first quarter points. This was the tone of the game for 48 minutes – largely back and forth until the final moments of the game.
Balanced scoring from the Pacers kept the score close. All but one player made two or more baskets for Indiana in the first half. The Thunder managed to keep itself in the game despite 3-10 shooting from the 3-point line in the first half going into the locker room with a 50-49 lead behind another stellar off-the-bench performance of Dennis Schröder who had 13 points in the first half.
After shooting 30 percent in the first two quarters, four 3-pointers from Danilo Gallinari plus a triple from Terrance Ferguson got the Thunder out to a comfortable start to the third quarter. However, the Pacers began a run of their own in response. Powered by offensive rebounds and second-chance points, the Pacers regained their lead going into the fourth ahead 79-78.
The trend continued for the Pacers in the final frame. Second opportunities at the rim and capitalizing on Thunder turnovers kept them comfortably ahead until the Thunder strung together multiple buckets on the offensive side of the ball punctuated by a Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and-one to bring the game to one point with three minutes left in the game. A tip-in put back from Adams brought the Thunder ahead with two and a half minutes left but the gain was short lived as Myles Turner silenced the crowd with a big-time 3-pointer of his own on the following play squashing the Thunder lead and momentum.
Unable to muster together multiple stops on defense, the Thunder weren’t able to regain the lead for the remainder of the game.
“We were not able to add two or three stops in a row and they were executing and shooting good shots, tough shots,” said Thunder forward Danilo Gallinari. “Some of them were tough shots on offense and we were not able to do the same thing on our end.”
After T.J. Warren knocked down two foul shots with 13 seconds left in regulation, the Pacers lead was stretched to five points. Hope was still on the horizon for the Thunder as Coach Donovan called a timeout to advance the ball to get a quick bucket on the other end of the floor. The Thunder looked to throw the ball inbounds, unfortunately Justin Holiday was one step ahead. Holiday snatched the inbounds and fled down the floor alone to an uncontested two-handed dunk to bring the Pacers lead to seven points with nine seconds left in the game.
Play of the Game
With the shot clock winding down for the Thunder midway through the third quarter, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander attacks the paint only to draw a wall of yellow jerseys. He swiftly kicks the ball out to Terrance Ferguson on the 3-point line. Now playing against a closeout, Ferguson shot fakes and attacks the right side of the floor. Two Indiana defenders stand in his way – no problem for T-Ferg. He elevates, masterfully scooping the ball between the two Pacers and leaves the rock in perfect placement to drop through the rim without touching the net.
Swoop— OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) December 5, 2019
How'd Ferg do that? pic.twitter.com/dq2bKrH5uC
Stat of the Night1
The Thunder held the physical inside force of the Pacers frontcourt to only one offensive rebound in the first half. In the second half, however, the Pacers collected 10 resulting in 12 second-chance points to give the Pacers the necessary edge in a game that was neck-and-neck for the majority of the night.
“We didn’t do the same job in the second half and that was the secret for them to win the game—to get all those offensive rebounds,” said Gallinari.
Quotes of the Night
“I thought we did a really good job defensively on some drives, and then late we got hurt on offensive rebounding where we came over and helped. Too many of those put backs, fouls, offensive rebounds, we could never really get a clean stop coming down the stretch.” –Coach Donovan
“We didn’t rebound well; they made some timely threes. Turner checked in the game, hit a big three and we just didn’t really get stops most games down the stretch. We’ve been getting stops and we couldn’t get stops.”
There will be one more game at home for the Thunder on Friday against the Timberwolves before a long stretch away from OKC. The Thunder will begin its four-game road stint in Portland on Sunday.