Coming into Monday night’s game in Indianapolis, the Oklahoma City Thunder had played nine back-to-backs so far this season. In those nine back-to-backs, seven of them included road games on the second night. In those seven games, the Thunder had gone 1-6.
Needless to say, OKC was looking to change this negative trend, but were unable to as it fell in gut-wrenching fashion Monday night 93-90 to the Indiana Pacers. With the loss, OKC is now 30-23 on the season.
Even though they were on the second night of a back-to-back, OKC came out with great energy and effort. The Thunder came out early and had great energy defensively, flying around and getting to the Pacers many perimeter options to contest shots.
Coming in, Indiana received 60 percent of its offensive output from the perimeter. Early on, however, its perimeter struggles were very evident. The Pacers started the game shooting 4-of-21 from the field, including 2-for-11 from three-point range.
Halfway through the second quarter, OKC began to distance itself, going on a 14-1 run to go up 45-30. It looked to have control of this game and went into halftime leading 52-41. The Pacers went 14-of-46 from the field in the first half, for a grand total of 30.4 percent, which was the lowest an opponent had shot against OKC in any half this season.
The second half was a completely different story, however, as the Pacers came out swinging and outscored OKC 32-18 in the third quarter. Coach Billy Donovan talked about another poor third quarter after the game.
“Part of our growth as a team is to come out of the locker room and play better in that third quarter,” Donovan said.
The two teams both scored 20 points in the fourth quarter, but the Thunder needed three more to send this one to overtime. A last second three-point attempt by Russell Westbrook rattled in-and-out, giving the Pacers the victory.
The Thunder’s loss wasn’t without the usual dominant performance from their star, MVP-caliber point guard. Westbrook finished the game with 27 points, 18 rebounds, and nine assists. His 18-rebound outburst was just one short of his career high of 19.
Andre Roberson put together another solid performance, finishing with 11 points on 5-of-8 shooting, and 11 rebounds. It was Roberson’s second consecutive double-double output. Steven Adams added 15 points along with nine rebounds on 6-of-13 shooting.
OKC dominated on the boards tonight, out rebounding Indiana 61-37. It also grabbed 20 offensive rebounds compared to Indiana’s 13.
OKC was able to control the paint all night, but Indiana made a few more perimeter shots when it mattered, ending in a tough, hard fought loss.
OKC has two tough games upcoming, as they take on the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday, followed by the Golden State Warriors on Saturday. Both games will be on national television.
Keys to the Game
Crash the Boards: A+
OKC dominated this aspect of the game. Any time you out rebound a team 61-37, you know you’ve done something right. The Thunder came out with the right mindset in this one and crashed the boards, offensively and defensively, all night long.
Limit Turnovers: C-
OKC had 16 turnovers on the night, entirely too many compared to Indiana’s 10. The only thing that kept this grade from being lower is OKC only allowed 17 points off those 16 turnovers. That number could have been a lot worse if Indiana tried to push the pace more.
Thunder Money Ball: F
OKC finished the night 7-of-28 from three-point range (25 percent). There’s two reasons this grade is an F. First, 25 percent from three is bad. Secondly, this team has to realize it isn’t a good three-point shooting team. 28 attempts is too many, especially when they aren’t going in. Attack the paint. Especially on a night like tonight when OKC controlled the game down low.We invite you to follow Thunder Digest on Twitter and like Thunder Digest on Facebook. Don't forget to subsribe on Youtube! Our Podcast is on iTunes and on Stitcher. We also have a Thunder Digest Instagram account if you love fun Thunder photography!