Share “Defense does its job as Thunder beats Pacers”

Defense does its job as Thunder beats Pacers

by Darnell Mayberry Modified: March 2, 2011 at 9:27 pm •  Published: March 2, 2011

Lakers in the last two games.

But it was the defense that did it.

The Thunder hawked the ball from start to finish and watched its defense create easy scoring opportunities. OKC scored 10 points off five Pacers turnovers in the first quarter and had 20 points off 12 Indiana giveaways by halftime. At one point, the Thunder held a 24-5 advantage in fast-break points, providing a glimpse of how the offense will hum once Kendrick Perkins makes his Thunder debut and defensive stops become more frequent than ever.

“Our defense was the best it's been all year,” Durant said.

The Thunder shot 50 percent through three quarters while holding the Pacers to 32.8 percent to take an 89-62 lead going into the final period. From there, every starter except Mohammed was allowed to kick back for the entire fourth period. Before that, though, Mohammed and Ibaka owned the paint, perhaps serving as a preview of what's to come once Perkins suits up.

While Mohammed manned Hibbert with superb one-on-one defense, Ibaka was allowed to roam and reject anything that came his way. Ibaka tallied six blocks to go with a team-high 12 rebounds. Together, Ibaka and Mohammed helped limit the Pacers to just 34 points in the paint.

“We're just bigger in the paint,” Durant said. “We got a shot-blocker in Serge and a great on-ball defender in Kendrick (when he returns) and Nazr. Nate is a good spark for us also off the bench once he plays.

“It's going to take some time for us to get everything where we want it to be. But I think we're in the right direction.”

Wednesday's box score