Posted December 08, 2012 on
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Few NBA matchups this season might create a bigger styles clash than a game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Indiana Pacers.
Oklahoma City's high-powered offense has it off to one of the league's best starts, while Indiana is relying on defense to stay afloat with its star player sidelined.
The Thunder seek their eighth straight victory on Sunday night when they host the Pacers.
They're 16-4 for the second straight year and tout the league's highest scoring offense (106.2 points per game). Oklahoma City has quickly silenced any doubts raised by the loss of reigning Sixth Man of the Year James Harden, averaging more points than last season (103.1 ppg).
Kevin Durant is averaging 27.0 while shooting a career-best 51.5 percent from the floor and Russell Westbrook's 2.51 assist-to-turnover ratio is a personal best. Serge Ibaka's offense is starting to catch up to his defense, with his 14.5 ppg up 5.4 from last season and Kevin Martin - acquired from Houston in the Harden trade - is averaging 15.4 while shooting 37.8 percent from 3-point range.
Everything starts with Durant and Westbrook, though, as seen in Oklahoma City's 114-108 home win against the Lakers on Friday night.
Durant scored 36 and Westbrook hit a season-high 5 3-pointers while scoring 33, including 27 in the first half. The Thunder trailed by 2 with nine minutes left in the second but Westbrook closed the quarter with 14 points to put Oklahoma City up by 14 at halftime.
"He has the ability to get hot," coach Scott Brooks said. "We have some guys on our team that have the ability to do that and he was the one in that first half."
A late 27-12 Lakers run may have made the final score deceptively close, but the Thunder spent most of the game running them off the floor. Oklahoma City held a 28-8 advantage in fast-break points and is one of the league's best squads in transition, averaging 16.7 on the break.
"We are good at home at pushing the ball and I think we did a good job tonight," Westbrook told the team's official website.
The Pacers (10-10) have struggled to score as much as any team, averaging 90.7 points. Indiana averaged 101.6 from 2007-08 through last season, but those numbers came with Danny Granger as the leading scorer each year. Granger has missed the entire season with a left knee injury and isn't expected back until at least February.
Without Granger, Indiana has needed stingy defense to stay competitive. They've gotten it so far, ranking among the league leaders in scoring defense (91.2).
"They play defense the best in the league," Brooks told the Thunder's official website. "They challenge, they're physical, they put their bodies on you and they rebound the ball very well."
Still, it's not always enough. The Pacers lost 92-89 at home against Denver on Friday as George Hill missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer at the buzzer - a shot that normally would come from Granger.
Indiana needs a better contribution from center Roy Hibbert, whose 38.0 percent field-goal shooting is a career worst and his 9.8 ppg are his fewest since he averaged 7.1 as a rookie.
"Just got to keep working," Indiana coach Frank Vogel told the team's website. "He's a good player, he doesn't want to shoot 3 for 10."
Durant scored 44 on 15-of-24 shooting in the Pacers' 103-98 win over the Thunder on April 6. Durant is averaging 30.0 points in nine career contests against Indiana.
BEST OF MAXIM
As the Oklahoma City Thunder continue their torrid pace in the Western Conference, guard Russell Westbrook has put together another outstanding season.
In Friday night's game against the Los Angeles Lakers, watch as Russ flies to the cup and throws down a nasty one-handed jam:
Finally, Russell Westbrook started to miss a few shots. The Oklahoma City point guard had lit up the Los Angeles Lakers with 27 points in the first half, but the halftime break appeared to have cooled him off a bit. As Westbrook missed all six shots he took in the third quarter, the Lakers did not lose any more ground on the scoreboard. The stage was set for Kobe Bryant to spear...
Kevin Durant and LeBron James are not doing a very good job of providing the fans of the NBA with a good old fashioned blood rivalry.
Much has been said about Durant’s penchant for working out with James who in turn thumped him in 2011-2012 NBA Finals earlier in the year.
James & Durant recently painted a picture of where their semi-rivalry stands.
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According to Ric Bucher of CSN Bay Area, Oklahoma City Thunder players Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook wanted to prove Kobe Bryant wrong. Apparently, during the 2012 Olympics in London, Kobe Bryant was constantly talking so much smack towards the two Thunder players. Kobe was saying that Durant and Westbrook will not be able to get to the NBA Finals again after the Lakers...
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Kevin Durant had 36 points, Russell Westbrook scored 27 of his 33 in the first half to stake Oklahoma City to a commanding lead and the Thunder beat the short-handed Los Angeles Lakers 114-108 Friday night.
NBA scoring leader Kobe Bryant had 35 points to lead Los Angeles, which trailed by as much as 19 before rallying to get within four in the final minute...
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...
Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant combined for their highest point total (69) of the season in the Thunders match up against the Lakers on Friday night. Now comes word that there was an additional motivation for those performances; Kobe Bryant’s Olympic smack talk. Allegedly last summer after the Lakers acquired Steve Nash and Dwight Howard, [...]
Russell Westbrook got up last night. He earned the block of the night against Pacers center Roy Hibbert. Hibbert stands nearly a foot taller than Westbrook(6'3) at 7'2. This speaks a lot for the ups that Westbrook has as a point guard. Check out the block of the night in the video below.
The Indiana Pacers didn't stand much of a chance against the first...
OKLAHOMA CITY There was a moment Sunday night in the Oklahoma City Thunder's 104-93 win over the Indiana Pacers that drilled right past the noise and clutter and hit at the very center of why this team has emerged as perhaps the best in the league.
With 5:39 left in the first quarter of what would be a grinding but well-executed game for both teams, Russell Westbrook exploded...
Oklahoma City -- Russell Westbrook had that look. Before he and his Oklahoma City teammates took on Los Angeles, he had the look of someone who was locked in and ready to punish the Lakers. That is exactly what Westbrook did Friday as he led the Thunder to a 114-108 victory over the Lakers at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Westbrook scored 33 points, dropped eight assists and was 5...
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Kevin Durant scored 27 points, Kevin Martin added 24 and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Indiana Pacers 104-93 on Sunday night for their eighth straight win.
A meeting of the NBA's highest-scoring offense and the league's stingiest defense went the way of the Thunder, who eclipsed 100 points for the 12th straight game.
Of course, Oklahoma City boasts...
Roy Hibbert‘s quest to become the best center in the NBA is not going so well. The 7-foot-2 Indiana Pacers big man may be coming off a career season, but on Sunday against the Oklahoma City Thunder he posted another disappointing stat line with 10 points and six rebounds.
Oh, yeah. And this happened, courtesy of 6-foot-3 point guard Russell Westbrook:
Kevin Durant scored 27 points, Kevin Martin added 24 and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Indiana Pacers 104-93 on Sunday night for their eighth straight win.
A matchup of the NBA's highest-scoring offense and the league's stingiest defense went the Thunder's way as they eclipsed 100 points for the 12th straight game.
Of course, Oklahoma City boasts the NBA's...
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Tweet OKC Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook at 6’3″ is one the most, if not the most athletic players in the NBA. Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert at 7’2″ is one of the NBA’s tallest players. With that tale of the tape, you wouldn’t expect this end result of a Hibbert dunk attempt: Incredible display [...]