Following the best shooting night in franchise history, Indiana’s offense came back down to earth as the Pacers fell 114-96 to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night.
Understandably, much of the hype surrounding the matchup was centered around it being the Pacers’ first time lining up against Paul George, who they traded to the Thunder over the offseason in exchange for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis.
But despite the anticipation, George wasn’t on the floor for much of the night, picking up two early fouls in his first shift on the floor, a third in the second quarter, and his fourth just minutes into the third quarter. The frequent whistles kept George out of the picture, leaving Oladipo free to roam on offense, racking up a game-high 35 points.
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Unfortunately for the Pacers (2-3), George isn’t the only player on the Thunder (2-2) capable of doing damage. All-Stars Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony made their mark on the evening, racking up a combined 56 points on the night as the Pacers’ offense hit a skid, making just 33.7 percent of its shots on the heels of a record-setting night on Tuesday.
“They made us work. They were very physical, defensively, with a lot of grabbing and busting through screens,” said Pacers head coach Nate McMillan after the game. “I think it just wore us down.”
Despite trailing by just six at the halftime whistle, the third quarter proved to be the game’s decisive 12 minutes, with the hosts outscoring the Pacers 32-26 to carry a 12-point lead into the fourth.
The 3-point shot kept the Pacers afloat in the first half, even though they shot just 35 percent overall across the first two quarters. But in the third, Indiana managed just one 3-pointer as the Thunder sped ahead.
With 3:17 remaining in the quarter, Westbrook flew down the floor, finishing with an acrobatic layup to put OKC up by 16 and triggering a timeout from McMillan.
Luckily for the Pacers, as time expired in the quarter, Alex Abrines of the Thunder fouled Darren Collison, who hit both of his free throws to make the score 86-74 entering the fourth quarter.
In the fourth, the Pacers seemed ready to go on a run midway through the period as Oladipo hit his fifth and final 3-pointer of the night, but OKC answered right back, using buckets from Raymond Felton and Patrick Patterson to push its lead back up to 13 with 6:41 left in the game.
From there, Westbrook secured his triple-double — the second of his season — as Oklahoma City was able to hold off the visiting Pacers down the stretch.
When the game began, both teams played tight, with several players missing close jumpers and layups in the early going. Oklahoma City was the first team to get things moving, opening up a 10-0 run, which forced the first timeout of the game with 7:38 left in the first quarter.
Out of the stoppage, Oladipo started to get settled, drilling a 3-pointer, then following it up with a streaking layup to pull the Pacers back within two.
By the end of the first quarter, the Thunder led 30-27, with Oladipo leading the way for Indiana after posting 14 points out of the gate in his return to OKC.
In the second quarter, the teams traded leads after Collison tied things up at 34 by knocking down a pair of free throws.
With 6:37 remaining in the half and the game knotted at 41, George was whistled for a charge after barreling into Al Jefferson, picking up his third foul and having to sit for the remainder of the half.
While the Thunder were able to build a slight lead down the final stretch of the second quarter, taking a six-point advantage into the locker room, Oladipo continued his offensive excellence, leading all scorers with 21 at the break.
As a team, the Pacers shot just 35 percent in the half, but made up for the low percentage by scorching the nets from deep, canning 7-of-17 attempts from beyond the arc to keep it a tight game at halftime.
But in the second half — even with Oladipo’s inspired play — Indiana simply wasn’t able to keep up with the well-rested Thunder, who outscored the Pacers 60-48 over the final two quarters of play.
“Off a back-to-back, on the road, against a good team is tough,” Oladipo explained. “They have a lot of great players, but we did some good things and we have some things we need to work on and get better at. We just have to go back to the drawing board and get ready for Sunday.”
Inside the Numbers
Victor Oladipo’s 35 points were the most any Pacers player has scored this season.
Oladipo and Thad Young Combined to go 8-of-14 from beyond the arc, while the rest of the Pacers went just 2-of-15.
The Pacers were outrebounded 49-41 by the Thunder.
Indiana got to the free throw line 35 times, making 30 (85.7 percent)
You Can Quote Me On That
“I like (Victor Oladipo’s) pace. He’s doing a good job of not forcing the issue. His shot selection has been better. He’s knocking down shots and in a pretty good rhythm, and we try to go to him as much as possible because he was the one guy with the hot hand. He’s just playing at a nice pace.” -Nate McMillan
“This is what happens in the NBA, a guy goes down and it’s the next man up. I thought we played pretty well yesterday. There were some little things we couldn’t control, the ball kind of bounced the wrong way today, but I thought we did a lot of great things, so we need to continue to build on that and continue to grow.” -Victor Oladipo
“They didn’t take their foot off the pedal. We did a good job sustaining our lead initially, and I thought our guys kept their composure, we just didn’t hit shots at the end of the game, as well as some silly turnovers. But it is a learning experience and we can’t make any more excuses we have to start winning some of these back-to-backs.” -Darren Collison
- Oklahoma City outscored the Pacers 54-28 in the paint
- Former Pacers player Paul George finished with 10 points, one rebound and six fouls in 19 minutes on the floor
- Russell Westbrook passed out a game-high 16 assists
- Pacers forward Myles Turner missed his third game of the season (sore neck, concussion)
Stat of the Night
One night after setting a franchise record for field goal percentage (66.7 percent), the Pacers made just 33.7 percent of their shots on Wednesday night, the lowest percentage they’ve shot since November 21st of 2016.
The Pacers return from their three-game road trip to face LaMarcus Aldridge and the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday, Oct. 29 at 4:30 PM ET. Find Tickets »
Away Game Night Special
We Are Indiana T-Shirt – $12. Game Night Specials can be purchased online the day of each away game from 10:00 AM – Midnight. Order Online »
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Primary Logo Tee – $12. Game Night Specials can be purchased in the Home Court Gift Shop or any of our souvenir stands located on all levels of Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The special is also available online at PacersTeamStore.com until midnight.
TV: FOX Sports Indiana – Chris Denari (play-by-play), Quinn Buckner (analyst), Jeremiah Johnson (sideline reporter/host)
Radio: 107.5 FM/AM 1070 The Fan – Mark Boyle (play-by-play), Austin Croshere (analyst), Pat Boylan (studio host)
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Construction Note: The city’s department of public works is replacing the sidewalk on Pennsylvania Street from just north of Georgia Street to Bankers Life Court. Portions of the sidewalk may be closed, but pedestrians should still have access to the Pennsylvania Street entrance of Bankers Life Fieldhouse.–>