Durant leads Thunder past Pacers

Associated Press  |  Last updated December 09, 2012
Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder can generate a lot of excitement as the NBA's highest-scoring team, but defense is still a matter of pride. Durant scored 27 points, Kevin Martin added 24 and the Thunder clamped down in the second half to beat the Indiana Pacers 104-93 on Sunday night for their eighth straight win. It was a matchup of NBA's most potent offense and the league's stingiest defense, but Oklahoma City also happens to be the second-best at making opponents miss. The Pacers shot 60 percent in the first half before Thunder coach Scott Brooks delivered a message at halftime. His players responded by limiting Indiana to 33 percent after that. ''Defense is going to win games. You can score back and forth if you want to, but defending is what we do,'' Russell Westbrook said. Westbrook had 21 points but more importantly came up with a big block against 7-foot-2 center Roy Hibbert -- 11 inches taller -- during a late 8-0 burst by the Thunder that put it away after the Pacers had pulled within three. ''Plays like that can change the whole momentum of the game,'' Westbrook said. ''That was one of those plays.'' David West led the way with 21 points for Indiana, which had all five starters score in double figures but still couldn't keep up. The not-so-balanced Pacers came allowing an NBA-best 91.2 points per game but scoring a league-low 90.7. ''We knew to beat this team, we had to put up points as well,'' said George Hill, who scored 15. ''Our defense can only hold up for so long'' The league's worst shooting team at 41.5 percent from the field, Indiana was connecting on 59 percent midway through the third quarter before a 1-for-13 dry spell allowed Oklahoma City to move ahead to stay. Serge Ibaka had two straight putbacks and later added a jumper as the Thunder took advantage with a 17-3 run, taking an 82-72 lead after Nick Collison's free throw with 46 seconds left in the third quarter. The Pacers chipped away and pulled to 94-91 on Paul George's 3-pointer from the right wing with 5:26 to play. Durant found Ibaka open underneath for a layup on the other end, and the Thunder scored eight straight points to regain control. After his block against Hibbert under the basket, Westbrook hit a jumper from the right wing, came up with a steal and then nailed another jumper from the left side for a 102-91 advantage with 2:59 left. ''Our first half was one of the worst we've played this year, and coach really got after us to bring it in the second half, and I think we did that,'' Durant said. The Thunder, averaging a league-best 106.2 points, were just the fifth team to hit triple digits this season against Indiana. The Pacers are 1-4 in those games. It was the 12th straight game with over 100 points for Oklahoma City. The blistering pace mattered little to Brooks, though, when it was 57-56 Thunder at halftime. Oklahoma City came in ranked second in the league, behind only Indiana, in allowing opponents to shoot 42.4 percent from the field. The Pacers were 24 for 40 in the first half and trailed mainly because of a 12-point deficit at the foul line. ''Coach got on us at halftime. That wasn't championship defense right there,'' said Martin, who had 22 points in the first half. ''We realized that, and that was the No. 1 priority going out there in the second half, just being physical and making them take tough jumpers and getting rebounds. That's what we did.'' George ended up with 17 points and Lance Stephenson and Hibbert chipped in 10 apiece for the Pacers. After the hot start, Indiana finished with 46 percent shooting from the field. Oklahoma City also outrebounded the Pacers, the league's top rebounding team, 40-34 and made 14 more free throws in 17 more attempts. The Thunder shot 49 percent. ''It's tough to see guys making shots when you're playing tough defense on them. That was really what it was for us,'' George said. Durant started out 4 for 17 from the field but hit five of six shots during a key stretch with Indiana trying to rally. Most of the damage came from the post, where Oklahoma City took advantage of the Pacers' defense switching screens with the small Hill ending up on Durant. ''They found something definitely,'' George said. George sank a 3-pointer from the right wing to spark a 13-0 first-half run by the Pacers that tied it at 45. Stephenson had a three-point play during the spurt, and also hit the free throw following Westbrook's technical foul for reacting dramatically to what he thought should have been a foul against Indiana. Westbrook made up for it, though, earning three free throws by sneaking his foot between West's feet on his 3-point follow-through and tripping him to draw a foul against West. After West argued vehemently, Westbrook knocked down all three foul shots to help the Thunder hold a 57-56 edge at halftime. ''You go through games like that throughout the whole season,'' Durant said. ''Your energy is not there at the start, but I think it's how you finish.'' NOTES: The Pacers became the first opponent to outscore the Thunder during the second quarter in seven games. Oklahoma City held a 70-point edge in the period during the span. ... Hibbert blocked at least two shots for the 15th straight game. He had two. ... Prior to the game, Oklahoma City recalled reserve point guard Reggie Jackson from its NBA development league affiliate in Tulsa. Jackson had played only one game on his assignment with the 66ers. Jeremy Lamb and Daniel Orton, who were also sent down Friday, remain with Tulsa.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: Yankees close to trading Aroldis Chapman

WATCH: Dontrelle Willis' great reaction to Giancarlo Stanton home run

Reports: Sale cut up throwback uniforms with knife in protest

WNBA withdraws fines for teams that protested gun violence

Ezekiel Elliott: ‘Evil NEVER prevails’

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Orioles, Padres reportedly talking trades of Melvin Upton, Cashner

Le’Veon Bell reportedly missed ‘several’ drug tests

Report: Islanders looking at locations to build new arena

Top five takeaways from this year's NBA Summer League

NCAA rules that hanging out with Drake is violation

WATCH: Justin Bieber arm wrestle Sixers center Joel Embiid

Report: Royals didn't invite Johnny Cueto to White House visit

Solo not taking any chances with Zika virus while in Rio

Rays reportedly demanding Profar in pitching deal with Rangers

Facebook doesn’t know the difference between Liverpool and Arsenal

Report: Teams asked about Wade Davis, asking price very high

Aussie Rules Football player accidentally kicks, breaks own leg

Former Arkansas football assistant trolls Bobby Petrino on social media

Could Clayton Kershaw's injury hinder trade talks?

Spurs strike a new deal with NBA stalwart Manu Ginobli

George makes return to Team USA following leg injury

Why the Clippers shouldn't break up their big three

White Sox pay homage to Bo Jackson’s bat-breaking skills with bobblehead

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Effect of ban on Russia could span beyond the Olympic Games

One Gotta Go: NBA players hate Facebook too

QUIZ: Name every city to host the NBA All-Star Game

One Gotta Go: NBA players settle the fast food beef

One Gotta Go: NBA players make tough choices on their favorite rappers

One Gotta Go: NBA Summer League is not about that Game of Thrones life

The top NHL free agents available as offseason winds down

WATCH: NBA jersey sponsors that need to happen

Expansion draft playing heavy hand in the current NHL offseason

WATCH: Pop & Timmy have a guys' night out

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker