A red-hot start for the Pacers continued through all four quarters as the Thunder fell behind early. As OKC’s offense undulated, Indiana’s 64-percent shooting from deep and 65-percent clip from the field kept the Thunder out of reach in this one.
As the Thunder’s offense got out to a slow start, the Pacers burst out of the gates on an offensive surge. Indiana made seven of its first eight attempts as the Thunder fell behind early in the first quarter. Doug McDermott led the Pacers’ early attack as he knocked down four 3-pointers in the first quarter on the way to a 16-point frame.
OKC strung together a small 9-0 run midway through the first quarter that included back-to-back buckets by Darius Bazley and a 3-pointer by Théo Maledon to bring the game to five points. However, the Pacers quickly reignited their offensive run that would remain steady through the remaining three quarters.
“It's tough,” said Daigneault. “It's demoralizing, you start off the game like that and then they kind of keep making shots and it took the wind out of our sails, there's really no explanation beyond that. All I'll say is we're still grateful to be playing basketball. Adversity tests the connection of the team and tests everything. It squeezes you, and it shows you who you are and we have an opportunity to have another game tomorrow.”
It had been just 10 days since the Thunder last faced the Pacers, but the lineups looked much different than they did in the first meeting. Without Lu Dort or Aleksej Pokuševski, the Thunder used the opportunity to give newcomers like 10-day signee Charlie Brown Jr. a chance in the starting lineup and take a look at extended minutes with Gabriel Deck who finished the game with eight points and 10 rebounds in just his second NBA game. On the other end, the Pacers reinserted Domantas Sabonis into its starting five after missing two weeks with injury and finished with 26 points.
With limited practice time and just eight games remaining on the schedule for the Thunder, Saturday’s game gave the newcomers a chance to continue integrating with their new team and for the Thunder’s young players who haven’t logged many minutes this season, such as two-way rookie Josh Hall, to see a significant stretch on the floor. Brown Jr. logged 27 minutes as both Deck and Hall recorded 24 off the bench.
“We’ve got a lot of new guys out there and we need to help them get their footing in terms of what we’re doing on both ends of the floor,” said Daigneault. “They're playing well intentioned basketball, they're competitive guys and we need to just continue to get better and dust ourselves off and get ourselves to zero and zero tomorrow.”
After a red-hot start, Indiana’s scorching offense didn’t look back in the second quarter following up its 42-point outburst in the first frame with a 42-point effort. The 3-pointers fell at a 61-percent clip in the first half for the Pacers who sank 11 of 18 in the first two frames and then shot 11-for-15 in the next two.
The Thunder kept pace in the first frame, bringing the game to five points just after the red-hot start from the Pacers out of the gates. However, as the Thunder’s offense rose and fell throughout the contest, the Pacers maintained the barrage of 3-pointers through all four frames to the tune of 64 percent from deep.
“They shot it really well. That certainly happened, 64% from three is an astronomical number, over the course of a game,” said Daigneault. “They obviously started the game like that, but we kept a little bit of pace them in the first quarter and you kind of need to get some stops and you need them to cool off a little bit, or need a little more offense. We needed a combination of things.”
Play of the Game
The Thunder finished the game with eight dunks and Darius Bazley got things started with an emphatic slam in transition in the first quarter. After a missed basket on the other end by Indiana, Moses Brown snagged the board and pitched the ball ahead to Charlie Brown Jr. to start the break. Brown Jr. found a sprinting Bazley on a pitch ahead who fearlessly elevated and slammed down a right-handed dunk over Oshae Brissett.
Stat of the Night23
Second chance points for the Thunder compared to just eight for the Pacers. Thunder big man Moses Brown, who registered a team-high 16 points on Saturday, led the charge in the extra opportunities at the basket with nine second chance points of his own on five offensive rebounds.
“Just playing with a lot of energy, going out and compete like I try to do every night and crash the boards and take advantage of my size advantage,” said Brown.
Quotes of the Night
“Every defeat is a lesson. Be ready to turn the page and get ready to do the next one and incorporate everything that we've learned from this experience on.”–Moses Brown “I told the guys after the game you’ve got to get off your feet, get mentally, physically, emotionally zero and zero tomorrow morning because we've got one of the best teams in the league coming in here tomorrow and they're playing really well. That one's about turning the page and keeping the guys connected and getting them back into the next moment, the next game. That's one we’ve got to flush to be honest with you.”
The Thunder will have little time to dwell as it closes out its weekend back-to-back against the number one team in the Western Conference in Phoenix on Sunday. From there, the Thunder will have the day off on Monday before wrapping up the four-game home stand with a matchup against the Sacramento Kings for the first time this season on Tuesday.