The Thunder led by just one at halftime against a balanced Pacers team that had nine players score. By the end of the third, the Thunder had extended the margin to five.
That's when it got ugly for the home team.
This time, with Westbrook resting at the start of the fourth quarter, it was Kevin Durant who led the way, as the Thunder assembled a 9-0 run to start the final period and take an 81-67 lead. After what appeared to be a sluggish start to the game, Durant scored the first six of the spurt and assisted Kevin Martin on the 3-pointer that capped the run.
“I know when coach takes me out early in the third in the fourth quarter he needs me to come out there and be super aggressive, kind of like forcing the issue,” Durant said “That's what I tried to do.”
Durant scored 15 of his game-high 34 points in the final period. He made 13 of 21 shots and added nine rebounds. Westbrook, as he has all season, slid to the backseat and let his passing replace his scoring. He dished three of his game-high nine assists in the fourth quarter.
The dagger came when Westbrook found Durant for an 18-footer with 2:21 left to play. It put the Thunder ahead by 20.
Indiana, which prides itself on defense, looked lost when it got a taste of its own medicine. By shutting off the paint and swarming to the ball, the Thunder held the Pacers to 2-for-18 shooting in the fourth quarter and outscored Indiana 25-8 in the quarter.
Most impressively, the Thunder, which historically struggles to close out possessions, out-rebounded the league's best rebounding team, 53-31, and limited Indiana to only seven second-chance points.
All told, it was a performance that commanded respect and by the end of the night, finally, had earned the Thunder some much-needed rest.
“Sleep was overrated,” Brooks said. “We came out and played well tonight.”