Pacers edge Thunder for seventh straight win

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[February 07, 2017]  INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indiana Pacers discovered yet another method to extend their winning streak on Monday night.

Indiana shot only 37.9 percent from the field, 65.5 percent from the foul line and was outrebounded 61-37, yet the Pacers limited the Oklahoma City Thunder to 38.6 percent shooting, including only 7 of 28 from 3-point range, while forcing 16 turnovers.

Paul George had 21 points, including a clutch basket with 1:20 remaining, and the Pacers extended their season-best winning streak to seven with a 93-90 victory over the Thunder.

"Defense was the difference in the game," Indiana coach Nate McMillan said. "That is what we want to be about."

Russell Westbrook, who finished with 27 points, 18 rebounds and nine assists, missed two potential game-tying 3-pointers in the final 7.8 seconds, including one at the buzzer while being closely guarded by George.

"The first (shot), he really didn't have a good look, but then he got it back and had a much better look," George said. "Westbrook is an explosive, tough player.

"As badly as we played in the first half, we had to step up in the second half."

Westbrook was one rebound shy of his career best, set on Feb. 3, 2016, against the Orlando Magic.

Jeff Teague added 17 points for Indiana, Glenn Robinson III had 14 and Myles Turner scored 10.

"Paul was great in the second half," Teague said. "As a group, our defense was good in the second half. That won the game."

Steven Adams contributed 15 points for the Thunder, Victor Oladipo had 14, and Andre Roberson finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds.

"I thought our guys played very, very well," Thunder coach Billy Donovan said. "But you knew Indiana was going to make a run at some point. It was a tale of two halves for both teams. Nate is looking at his team thinking they didn't play particularly well in the first half, and I am thinking the same thing about my team in the second half."

A Turner layup with 6:47 remaining gave Indiana an 84-75 lead. A 3-pointer by Westbrook, two Oladipo free throws and a Westbrook layup cut the Pacers' lead to 91-90 with 2:03 left.

"We have got to do a better job of playing defense for 48 minutes," Oladipo said. "We did a great job of flying around and being active in the first half. Then, they started to hit shots."

Including Rodney Stuckey's layup at the buzzer, Indiana outscored Oklahoma City 32-18 in the third quarter, limiting the Thunder to seven field goals on 24 attempts to take a 73-70 lead through 36 minutes. The Pacers were 11 of 22 from the field in the third quarter.

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 Pacers forward Paul George (13) looks on against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The Pacers won 93-90. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

"The first half was a wakeup call for us," McMillan said. "Oklahoma City is a playoff team, and in the first half, our offense was stagnant, and we were taking quick shots. In the second half, we played like we are capable of playing."

The Thunder (30-23) limited George to 1-of-8 shooting from the field during a first half in which Oklahoma City outrebounded Indiana 31-22 and led 52-41 through 24 minutes.

Indiana (29-22) shot only 30.4 percent from the floor in the opening half and turned the ball over six times, leading to 12 Thunder points.

Robinson led Indiana with nine first-half points, Teague had eight and George scored six.

"We are playing with a lot of confidence right now, and in the second half, we played great defense," Robinson said.

Westbrook had eight points, 11 rebounds and seven assists in the first half. Adams had 12 points and five rebounds, and Oladipo scored eight points.

NOTES: Indiana F Thaddeus Young sat out as he continues to rehab his sprained left wrist. ... The Thunder rank fourth in rebounding (45.8) and fifth in opponents' rebounding (41.8). ... The Pacers lead the NBA in opponents' turnovers per game (15.7) and are second in free throw percentage (81.8). ... Indiana was attempting to sweep the season series from the Thunder for the first time since 2008-2009. ... Thunder starting G Victor Oladipo played college ball at Indiana University, only 40 miles from Indianapolis. ... The Pacers play host to the Cavaliers on Wednesday. The Thunder's next game is also against Cleveland, on Thursday in Oklahoma City.

[ 2017 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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