Guard Lance Stephenson hit a key 3-point shot in the final
minute, forward David West blocked a 3-point attempt by Oklahoma
City guard Kevin Durant and the Pacers held off the Thunder, 102-97,
on Sunday afternoon at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
The victory, the Pacers' first over Oklahoma City in more than two
years, put the Pacers (55-26) in position to win the No. 1 playoff
seed in the Eastern Conference and home-court advantage prior to the
NBA Finals. If Indiana wins its regular season finale Wednesday at
Orlando, or Miami loses either one of its two remaining games, the
Pacers would capture the top seed. Indiana holds an advantage in the
tiebreaker over Miami because of a better conference record.
"It's a big step," said Indiana guard C.J. Watson, who came off the
bench and scored a season-high 20 points. "We needed it."
Kevin Durant scored a game-high 38 points for Oklahoma City (58-22),
which was attempting to clinch the No. 2 playoff seed in the Western
Conference. Guard Russell Westbrook added 21 points for the Thunder.
"It was a tough game. This changes nothing regarding our playoff
race," Durant said.
Before Sunday, the Pacers had lost six of their previous eight
games. One of those wins was delivered by the team's bench players
at the Milwaukee Bucks when all of the team's starters were given
the night off by coach Frank Vogel.
"What surprises me is that people are down on them," Oklahoma City
coach Scott Brooks said. "They're a good basketball team. In an
82-game season, you're going to have some tough times."
Stephenson had his fifth triple-double of the season, scoring 17
points, grabbing 10 rebounds and totaling 11 assists. His 3-pointer
with 34 seconds left put the Pacers up 97-91 and Stephenson reacted
by dancing down the court.
"We played loose and didn't worry about turnovers and just played
ball," Stephenson said.
The Thunder forced 21 Indiana turnovers, but were outrebounded by
the Pacers, 46-32.
Seconds before Stephenson's basket, West blocked a 3-point attempt
by Durant and the ball deflected to Stephenson. If the shot had
fallen, the score would have been tied.
"David West is a special player," Vogel said. "Everything you could
want in a player, he is."
West led Indiana with 21 points and forward Paul George added 20
points and a game-high 12 rebounds.
Watson was playing in just his third game since returning from a
right hamstring injury and said he is still playing in pain. He
scored a team-high 14 points in the first half. A 3-pointer by
Watson with 9:10 left in the game gave Indiana an 11-point lead.
"We don't win the game without him doing what he did," Vogel said.
"He was spectacular. We certainly did miss him when he was out."
[to top of second column]
Durant, who topped 30 points for the second time in his last three
games, hit 13-of-27 shots and was 10-for-10 at the free-throw line.
He scored 12 points in the first quarter when the Thunder went up by
"We knew he was going to make shots," West said. "We just wanted to
make sure we were there."
A 10-3 Indiana run early in the third quarter, which included a slam
dunk by George following an Oklahoma City turnover and another
basket on the next possession by George, put the Pacers up by five
points, 60-55. The Pacers built that lead to eight by the end of the
quarter, mostly on free throws.
One of the free throws by George was the result of a technical foul
called on Oklahoma City power forward Serge Ibaka, who charged after
a referee when he was whistled for a foul.
NOTES: Thunder coach Scott Brooks says he does not anticipate any
major rests for his starting players leading up to the playoffs.
They finish up the season Monday at New Orleans and Wednesday at
home against Detroit. "I want to win every practice, win every
game," Brooks said. ... Thunder G Kevin Durant has virtually
clinched the NBA scoring championship for the fifth consecutive year
in terms of points scored. He has scored 2,526 points. Only Michael
Jordan (seven) and Wilt Chamberlain (seven) had longer consecutive
season points titles. ... Pacers G George Hill and coach Frank Vogel
watched video together of Friday's game in Miami, a learning session
that was a result of Hill not taking a shot and scoring zero points
in the Pacers' 98-86 loss. "I certainly should have tried to get him
more involved (in having a shot opportunity)," Vogel said. ... The
Pacers, who have lost seven of their last eight road games, finish
the regular season Wednesday at Orlando.
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.