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Thunder Catch Fire in Third Quarter, Beat Pacers 107-99 at the ‘Peake

Thunder Catch Fire in Third Quarter, Beat Pacers 107-99 at the ‘Peake


The Oklahoma City Thunder (44-31) used a second half surge to beat the Indiana Pacers (45-30) on Wednesday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena, taking the lead for good with an NBA-best 24-0 run in the third quarter. Despite 39 percent shooting and lifeless play in the first half, OKC got more than enough after the break — outscoring Indiana by 17 on 50 percent shooting and a 9-of-19 clip from downtown to rally for the 107-99 victory.

Paul George led the way with 31 points, Steven Adams had a dominant 25-12 double-double, and Jerami Grant added 19 points on 5-of-8 shooting from three. Russell Westbrook recorded his 29th triple-double of the season in the win, contributing 17 points, 11 rebounds, 12 assists, and two steals. Bojan Bogdanovic led the Pacers with 28 points on 6-of-9 from deep.

The Thunder came out of the gate with more energy than Monday in Memphis — winning on the glass, taking care of the basketball, and forcing four turnovers in the first quarter. Steven Adams started hot, scoring 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting, but Indiana hung around on eight points off the bench for Domantas Sabonis. The team’s exchanged leads late in the frame, and the Thunder held a 29-27 advantage at its conclusion.

Bucket-swapping continued to open the second quarter, with the Pacers eventually building a 5-point lead at the midway point. The Thunder were ice cold from downtown, but certainly not for lack of trying — shooting 4-of-17 (23.5%) from deep in the first half. Grant knocked one down at the 4:41 mark to cut OKC’s deficit to two, but it was all Indiana from there. Bogdanovic got hot and orchestrated an 11-3 run to end the half, with the Pacers in front 54-45 at the break.

Big Kiwi’s 14 points (6/8 FG) paced the Thunder in scoring in the first half, followed by George’s 11 points (5/12 FG, 1/5 3P). Westbrook was unusually quiet, hitting the locker room with 3 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 steals on just 1-of-4 shooting. The Pacers shot 7-of-13 (53.8%) from long range, led by Bogdanovic’s 14.

It felt like Monday’s version of the Thunder had arrived early in the third quarter, as the offense generated nothing and fell behind by 10 less than a minute in. But OKC went back to Adams, who responded with a few quick buckets to re-establish some momentum. Grant then knocked down a couple threes, George followed with one of his own, and Westbrook even rattled one in for fun. Back from the dead, the Thunder reeled off a 24-0 run over the next seven minutes — taking a 72-60 lead with 3:58 remaining in the third.

OKC went on to outscore the Pacers 31-15 in the third quarter, shooting 50 percent from the floor and knocking down five 3-pointers. The Pacers shot just 7-of-25 (28%) and made 1-of-8 from three in the frame — but closed on a 9-2 run to make it 76-69 with 12 minutes to go. Nothing felt comfortable.

The teams went back and forth for most of the fourth quarter, with Indiana cutting deep into the OKC lead on more than one occasion. However, the Thunder offense — spearheaded by Westbrook’s nine points on 3-of-5 shooting —  did enough to keep the Pacers from stealing another comeback. Grant cashed his fifth three of the night to put OKC up eight with 1:13 remaining, ending any chance of a dramatic ending.

The Thunder handed out 29 assists and committed just six turnovers in the win, picking up a much-needed victory despite getting just 10 points from the bench (Dennis Schroder: 3 pts, 0/7 FG). They’ll return to action on Friday night when the Nuggets pay a visit to Chesapeake Energy Arena.