Thunder Out-Paced Down The Stretch, Fall To Indiana

Friday, February 19th 2016, 11:08 pm
By: Brett Coppenbarger

It’s never good to count your chickens before they hatch, but the Thunder fell victim to the old phrase on Friday night against the Pacers (29-25) as they fell 101-98 inside of Chesapeake Energy Arena.

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Oklahoma City led by nine points after three quarters and appeared poised to pull away for a win against a solid Eastern Conference opponent, but Indiana had other plans in mind. The Pacers opened up the final frame on an 8-to-2 run, but the Thunder were able to regroup and get up 91-84 with three minutes left in the game.

But that was when the Pacers began to set fire.

Both George Hill and Monta Ellis knocked down three-pointers to open the floodgates for Indiana, and then rookie center Myles Turner unexpectedly swished a corner money ball to tie the game at 95-95 with 55 seconds left.

OKC had the ball with a chance to regain the lead, but Kevin Durant opted to pull up for a deep three-point shot that bricked off the back iron and Indiana suddenly had the chance to take a lead.

Ellis set up at the top of the key, used a pick from big man Ian Mahinmi to free himself up on the right side and drilled the Pacers’ fourth consecutive shot from behind the arc to give Indiana a three-point lead with 18 seconds left.

Out of a timeout, Thunder head coach Billy Donovan opted to have his team make a quick two-pointer and hope the Pacers miss some free throws at the other end, but Russell Westbrook’s running layup barely rolled off the rim and Indiana made enough free throws in the final seconds to seal the road win.Indiana ended the game on a 15-to-7 run. 

Elllis led the Pacers in scoring with 27 points while Paul George added 22 points while recording 10 assists. It was only the fifth time in George’s career where he notched double-digit assists. Indiana also got huge games from its post players, with Mahinmi recording a career-high 19 points and 11 rebounds while Turner totaled 16 points and six blocks.

Durant scored 31 points and grabbed eight rebounds, while Westbrook’s 23 points and a career-high 18 assists were not enough to lead the Thunder past the Pacers. Both Serge Ibaka (12pts, 11reb) and Enes Kanter (13pts, 10reb) recorded double-doubles, but the Thunder were limited to only 10 free-throws while only shooting 19.2 percent from behind the arc.Indiana hit as many three-pointers in the fourth quarter (five) as the Thunder did throughout the entire game. Newly acquired guard Randy Foye did not play in his first game on the Thunder roster. 

The Thunder (40-15) will have to recover quickly as they host the Cavaliers at the Peake on Sunday with tip-off set for 2:30 p.m.