While Paul George gathered up all of the pre-game chatter. He took in the boos and the jeers. However, it was Steven Adams who brought it tonight, scoring 23 points and pulling down 13 rebounds as the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Indiana Pacers 100-95.
Oklahoma City improves to 13-14 on the year and won five of the last seven.
In Paul George’s first return to Bankers Life Fieldhouse since being traded in June, the boos reigned down from the first time he took the court for warm ups to his last touches in the final seconds. While the crowd wasn’t overly aggressive or anything, it had an apparent effect on George as he struggled shooting all night, finishing only 3-of-14 from the floor for 12 points.
While the Big Three struggled all evening long, it was Steven Adams who came to the rescue. Adams had 15 points at halftime and was the catalyst for everything Oklahoma City did. He was a scoring and rebound machine. He also had a huge hand in the clutch possession, forcing Thaddeus Young into a turnover. Oklahoma City rode the Kiwi train all the way to victory town.
After a sluggish first quarter, Raymond Felton and the Oklahoma City Thunder bench found the lead, with a 9-0 run to start the second quarter. Oklahoma City eventually took the league late in the quarter and held a 51-46 lead at halftime.
Russell Westbrook pulled down his ninth triple-double of the season and the 35th of 2017, which is an NBA record for a calendar year.
The Pacer’s winning streak ended at four as they had won 11 of their last 15.
Indiana charged back early in the third quarter, taking a 63-59 lead as Thunder nation held their breath. However, Oklahoma City would outscore the Pacers 14-6 down the stretch, taking a 73-69 lead into the fourth quarter.
Oklahoma City’s bench did their job again with a couple of Patrick Patterson three-pointers, including one to give Oklahoma City a 92-81 lead with 5:16 remaining in the game.
Indiana would get within 96-95 with 40.8 seconds remaining but a last second tip in by Alex Abrines gave Oklahoma City a three-point lead for good. George would ice the game with two free throws.
“I was impressed. He’s not a very strong guy,” Josh Huestis said of Abrines.
With the victory, coupled with the Jazz loss, the Oklahoma City Thunder moved into the eighth spot in the Western Conference.
Oklahoma City will continue the show on the road as they head to the East coast for a back-to-back with Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday night. Then, it’s Ron Baker and the New York Knicks on Saturday night. Both games are scheduled to tip-off at 6 p.m. CST.
Keys to the Game
Defend the three: B
While the Pacers made 35.5 percent of their threes, you really have to examine how they got to the point. Outside of the opening quarter, the Thunder held the Pacers to 6-of-20 (30 percent). Quality close out defense really helped the Thunder tonight.
Tonight, the bench was amazing. They were why Oklahoma City was even in the game. They were why the Thunder even fought. When you have these players come off the bench, cold as ever, and contribute, it gives your team a boost. Oklahoma City’s bench scored 29 points tonight, well above their season average of 23 points.
Make your free throws: D
The Thunder missed a bunch of free throws again, only made 62.5 percent. Oklahoma City has to and I mean HAS to find a way to make their free throws. Westbrook missed four free throws and Anthony missed two himself. Oklahoma City has to figure this out.We invite you to follow Thunder Digest on Twitter and like Thunder Digest on Facebook. Our Podcast is on iTunes. We also have a Thunder Digest Instagram account if you love fun Thunder photography!