The Indiana Pacers hadn’t yet had a shot at the Thunder this season, but they knew what to do: run up a big lead and then hold on. By “big,” I mean 12 points after the first quarter, 24 points midway through the third. The OKC never-say-die drill, had it started earlier, might have paid off; but the closest they would get would be three, and they lost it by five, 103-98.
Neither side shot especially well — OKC 44 percent, Indiana 41 — and both were fairly blah from the three-point line (6-19 each). But the Pacers snagged 50 rebounds, 18 offensive, versus 40 and 11 for the Thunder, and seemingly as always, the OKC turnover number, this time 17, was alarming. The usual suspects got most of the points for Indiana — Danny Granger 26, Roy Hibbert 21 (with 12 boards), David West 14 — but perhaps the biggest thorn in OKC’s side was second-year guard Paul George, who before fouling out picked up eight points and a career-high 16 rebounds. (And he played nearly as much time as Granger, which meant that Frank Vogel decided to leave the kid in while he was on a roll. Good call, Frank.)
While the Pacers were spreading the offense around, the Thunder was relying on the All-Star contingent, and they got All-Star worthy numbers — eventually. (Russell Westbrook had only three points at halftime, yet finished with 21; Kevin Durant went off for 44.) Your telltale statistic, though: Derek Fisher was +12, tops on the team, despite scoring zilch and accumulating five fouls. The OKC bench contributed only 18 points, ten from James Harden, eight from Nick Collison, but they had at least some success keeping the Pacers from running up the score even more.
And now follows a trap game: Sunday at the ‘Peake against Toronto, a team with a miserable record, but which had a miserable record last year and still swept the Thunder. Even the Easter Bunny might have his doubts about this one.