Chalk up Thunder victory to refuse-to-lose defense in fourth quarter
Oklahoma City learned a lesson on Friday night, when it allowed the Lakers back into the game. The same thing was not going to happen against Indiana.
Roy Hibbert got by his defender, caught the ball in the paint and had a clear path to the basket.
Until he didn't.
Russell Westbrook swooped in and swatted away the big fellow's shot.
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“I thought the game changed when he blocked ... Hibbert,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said.
Did it ever.
On a night when the Thunder found itself locked in a grinder with the defensive-minded Pacers, it was the boys in blue who turned into defensive Dobermans and won going away.
Thunder 104, Pacers 93.
People might talk about Kevin Martin's big first half or Kevin Durant's monster fourth quarter or Westbrook's offense down the stretch. But the Thunder won this game because of defense.
It started with that Westbrook block.
Up until that point late in the fourth quarter, the Thunder defense had been suspect much of the night. Even though the Pacers were without injured All-Star forward Danny Granger and came into The Peake with limited firepower, they shot 60.0 percent in the first half.
Brooks let his guys know it, too.
“Coach really got after us,” Durant said. “Our first half was one of the worst we've played this year.”
Westbrook said, “The second half was a little different.”
Maybe more than a little.
After Paul George hit a 3-pointer with 5:26 left in the game and cut the Thunder lead to three, the Pacers never scored another basket. Heck, they didn't even manage to take that many shots. The Thunder allowed the Pacers only offensive rebound and just seven shots, and they missed every single one of those attempts.
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