The Indiana Pacers’ brutal road trip will mercifully come to an end Sunday, but before they head home, they have one more tough matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder (14-4) at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
The Pacers (18-2) are 3-1 on this five-game sojourn. They fell to the Portland Trail Blazers, but bested the Los Angeles Clippers, Utah Jazz and San Antonio Spurs. Indiana will return home to play the two-time defending champion Miami Heat on Tuesday night.
Indiana was awesome on Saturday night en route to its 111-100 victory over the Spurs. They snapped an 11-game losing streak to the reigning Western Conference champions and earned their first win in San Antonio since Jan. 4, 2002.
“You have to play great to beat this basketball team, especially here and we did in the second and third quarter,” said Pacers coach Frank Vogel. “We were operating on all cylinders.”
And they have been all season.
The Pacers have now won nine of their last 10 games and own an eight-game lead in the Central Division.
The second and third quarters Vogel referenced were the difference against the Spurs. Indiana flipped a 13-point deficit into a 22-point lead thanks to a 67-37 disparity in the second and third quarters.
“I thought we were connected, even when we got down in that second quarter,” said David West. “We had that belief like, if we put together some stops, obviously we felt like we could get some good shots offensively, and we just converted.”
The Pacers shot 53.5 percent and 47.4 percent from long range.
Paul George was his brilliant self on Saturday with 28 points, six assists and four rebounds. West finished with 20 points, but five other Pacers scored in double figures.
Lance Stephenson managed 15 points and Roy Hibbert, George Hill, Luis Scola and C.J. Watson all scored 12 points. Hibbert and Scola both grabbed 10 rebounds.
The Thunder have been waiting since returning home from a three-game trek after Friday’s 109-95 victory in New Orleans. OKC went 2-1 with the lone setback coming in Portland, which is no cause for shame.
On Friday, the Thunder dominated the middle two quarters to the tune of 56-42. Oklahoma City shot 50.6 percent from the field and held the Pelicans to 37.5 percent shooting.
“It was anybody’s ball game headed into halftime,” explained Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “We had to come out in the second half with a better defense stand, and I thought we played great defense. I liked our effort throughout the game. Everyone gave a good defensive effort. Their speed was hard to contain but we did a good job tonight.”
Kevin Durant led the Thunder with 29 points, while Russell Westbrook finished with 25. Serge Ibaka was great with 17 points, 13 rebounds and three blocked shots. Reggie Jackson had 15 off the bench.
The Thunder have been spectacular of late, winning nine of their last 10. Only four opponents during that span have scored 100 or more points against Oklahoma City.
The Thunder swept both meetings last season and have taken five of the last seven. Indiana has lost three straight in Oklahoma City.