After an 18-point Thunder lead was trimmed to 93-92 with just over five minutes to play, Oklahoma City locked down defensively. Over the next 4 1/2 minutes the Pacers were 0-from-6 from the field with four turnovers, their only points being two free throws.
Indiana shot 39.6 percent. The Pacers drained 10 3-pointers but made 16 Friday night in Minnesota. "It was a battle of the offenses,” said Jeff Green. "They have some great offensive players. A.J. Price really got them back in the game with some 3’s and got to the basket. But our defense won it late. The steal by James (Harden) was big.”
OLD FRIENDSKevin Durant and Green grew up playing with Indiana center Roy Hibbert in the same AAU program — the D.C. Blue Devils. Hibbert and Green were on the same team. Durant was on a younger team. They still sometimes play pickup games each summer in D.C. "Going to college together (at Georgetown) is where I really got to know Jeff,” Hibbert said. "There are so many guys from that area, including Jarrett Jack and Michael Beasley. It’s always fun every summer so much fun to play against those guys.”
WATSON’S VIEWPOINTEarl Watson, inserted as Indiana’s starting point guard last week, played five seasons for the Thunder/Sonics organization over three different stints. Watson was confident Durant, Green and Russell Westbrook would blossom but said the Thunder hiring Ron Adams as an assistant coach midway through last season was pivotal. "Ron Adams brought a defensive mentality,” Watson said. "That’s when you started to see change. Practices with Ron you do the same things over and over. But it works. It impacts the team. You’re seeing more deflections. You’re seeing a good (defensive) rotation. Everyone is on the same page defensively. Offensively they’ve never really had many problems.”