Let’s get one thing out of the way first: in response to all of the hullabaloo over Kevin Durant’s dunk on Roy Hibbert, allow me to speak for Roy.
Besides, the incident in the fourth quarter where Hibbert caught the ball rolling to the basket, and Derek Fisher made him stop and pump fake was infinitely more embarrassing.
This was a game between two good basketball teams tonight. The Pacers dominated for a long time, but Oklahoma City never stopped being terrifying until the game was over…and even then, you left the building wondering if they were really dead.
First, the losers.
Kevin Durant was sublime. After the game, Vogel initially said they did a “not so good” a job on Kevin Durant. When I followed up, he said, “Actually, I think we did a good job. It was just good defense, better offense…other than our transition.”
And that offense would be better than most defenses on most nights.
For the winners, they were getting incredible contributions from everyone who played through the first two and a half quarters. West, Hibbert, George, DC, Lou – everybody was making a play.
Indy probably had a chance to end it in the third, but there was a series of threes that the Pacers missed. They were all pretty clean looks, so I asked Vogel whether he thought they were settling for shots, or if he thought they were good shots that just didn’t go. His response:
“Naah. When you play a spread lineup, they’re either gonna leave the paint, or they’re gonna leave shooters. They were leaving shooters. We’ve got enough good shooters, that that’s gonna even out … And it did even out. Those are good shots, and we’ll take them in the rhythm of the offense.”
The third quarter was an opportunity missed, but you have to love their defense in that quarter – holding the best offense in the league to an offensive efficiency of only 83. Unfortunately, they only managed a 79 themselves.
In the fourth, the dam broke, and the Thunder scored 37 points, but the Pacers put up 28, and walked out victors.
Sure, you’d love to have run away to an easy victory, but there’s a reason Oklahoma City is one of the best teams in the league. The Pacers should be nothing but proud of this win.
|David West, PF 23 MIN | 5-8 FG | 4-4 FT | 5 REB | 14 PTS |
Didn’t see much action late, but was very efficient and effective early. He and Hibbert punished the Thunder inside to build the first half lead.
|Danny Granger, SF 37 MIN | 11-23 FG | 3-3 FT | 6 REB | 26 PTS |
The Captain. Thirteen fourth quarter points, and the Pacers needed every one of them. Kevin Durant scored 44 points and was jaw-dropping awesome. Danny won.
|Roy Hibbert, C 32 MIN | 7-14 FG | 7-9 FT | 12 REB | 21 PTS |
The big fella was a UUUUUUUGE advantage for the Pacers all night – regardless of what is on YouTube.
|Darren Collison, PG 23 MIN | 3-7 FG | 4-4 FT | 3 AST | 11 PTS |
Yeah, I’m givin’ him an A+. Gargantuan bucket late. Even bigger free throws. Good job defensively on Russell Westbrook early in the game. Nicely done, Mr. Collison.
|Paul George, SG 36 MIN | 3-13 FG | 1-2 FT | 16 REB | 8 PTS |
The young guy was all over the place tonight – in both the good way (career high 16 rebounds, 3 steals), and the bad way (3-for-13 shooting, 3 turnovers, fouled out). Still, this guy was on the floor with some of the best players in the world, and clearly belonged.
|Dahntay Jones, SG 3 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS |
Coach Frank Vogel had committed to having either Granger or George guarding Durant all night tonight, and that limited Dahntay’s playing time.
|Leandro Barbosa, SG 29 MIN | 3-10 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 9 PTS |
Not a great shooting night, but still scored and helped the team.
|Louis Amundson, C 15 MIN | 0-1 FG | 2-4 FT | 4 REB | 2 PTS |
There are times where he is – purely and simply – channeling Jeff Foster. What a fantastic pick up for this team.
|George Hill, SG 28 MIN | 2-5 FG | 2-4 FT | 4 AST | 8 PTS |
Not a lot of numbers, and made some mistakes, but still led a second unit that maintained and extended the lead in the second quarter.
|Tyler Hansbrough, PF 13 MIN | 1-4 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 4 PTS |
Quiet night for Tyler, whose minutes were squeezed a bit by some 4th quarter small ball.