Before Sunday night's game at Chesapeake Energy Arena, Indiana coach Frank Vogel didn't claim to have all the answers on how to beat the Thunder, but his Pacers have the desired size, length and athleticism to defend any team in the league.
“We have the matchups to at least give ourselves a chance to come here and get a W,” Vogel said.
Vogel primarily was speaking of Thunder All-Stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. What Vogel soon learned is he should have made mention of sixth man Kevin Martin and in the end there is no one who can match Westbrook's ridiculous athleticism.
Boosted by a 22-point first-half outburst off the bench from Martin and punctuated by a late-game flurry from Westbrook, the Thunder posted a 104-93 victory over the pesky Pacers to push its winning streak to eight games.
Against the league's stingiest defense, a sellout crowd of 18,203 appreciatively watched OKC score 100-plus points for the 12th straight contest while improving to 17-4 on the season, tied with San Antonio for the NBA's best record.
With his teammates struggling to score early, Martin ignited the Thunder when he entered at the 4:55 mark of the first quarter.
In a span of 15 first-half minutes, Martin shot 6 for 7 from the field, 3 for 4 from 3-point range and 7 for 8 from the free-throw line for 22 points. He finished with 24 points and shot 7 for 12.
“Just being aggressive and just doing what I've been doing for years,” the 29-year-old Martin said of his performance. “It was just one of those games where you kind of felt it.”
It was with 3:45 left in the game when Westbrook took control.
It began when the 6-foot-3 Westbrook blocked the shot of 7-foot 2 Indiana center Roy Hibbert, which led to a 14-footer from Westbrook on the ensuing possession, then a steal and another buried 14-footer on the next possession, and eventually an 18-footer to end all scoring with 1:02 remaining.
Then, in Westbrook's typical maniac manner, he committed a turnover with 27.9 seconds left and stole the ball back exactly two seconds later literally with a smile on his face.