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.”
MAGIC NUMBERIf the Thunder scores 100 points they usually win. Oklahoma City improved to 15-1 when it reaches the century mark even though it had been nearly two weeks since they scored 100. The only loss all season was 111-108 to the Lakers in the Staples Center three days before Christmas.
ATTENDANCE UPDATEDespite playing in a renovated Ford Center that features 1,000 less seats than last season, the Thunder ranks 11th in the league in average attendance (17,955). Oklahoma City is eighth in percentage of tickets sold (98.6). The Thunder has had 11 sellouts in 18 home games, including Saturday’s game which was a sellout. Even with the Dallas Cowboys playoff game on TV and Oklahoma State’s men’s team playing at home, there were only around 1,000 no-shows.
FAST BREAK...Oklahoma City is an identical 10-8 at both home and on the road... The Thunder almost had a shot at history. The 10 millionth point in NBA history was scored Saturday night by Ben Gordon in Detroit, a few minutes before Thunder-Pacers tipped off. The first basket was scored in 1946... Tyler Hansbrough, the Pacers first-round pick out of North Carolina, did not dress, missing his sixth straight game with an inner ear infection. Hansbrough has averaged 9.2 points and 5.1 rebounds... Indiana All-Star guard Danny Granger returned Friday night after being sidelined a month (17 games).