INDIANAPOLIS â€” With each step he took in the fourth quarter and overtime Friday night at Indiana, Jeff Green embodied how stubborn the Oklahoma City Thunder can be.
Playing on a still-gimpy left ankle that has caused him to miss seven games already this season, Green limped his way through an improbable 110-106 overtime victory over the Pacers inside Conseco Fieldhouse.
In a game in which the Thunder needed to overcome seeing its starting center in street clothes, some cold shooting and one sizable matchup problem, nothing characterized the Thunder's courageous effort quite like Green conquering a chilling collision with 2:54 remaining in the extra period.
As he drove to the basket midway through overtime, Green crashed to the floor and clutched his left leg after colliding with a Pacers player. The contact kept Green down, wincing in pain while he rolled around. As he attempted to collect himself, Green slammed the ball in frustration before hobbling to the bench.
But after a timeout, Green returned to the court to sink two free throws that gave the Thunder a 100-98 lead.
At the other end, Green continued to defend Pacers center Roy Hibbert, who owned a 5-inch height advantage over Green and had spent the game's first 28 minutes torching the Thunder. Center Nenad Krstic was inactive because of back spasms, and his replacement, Serge Ibaka, was no match for Hibbert. Green, however, helped limit Hibbert, his former teammate at Georgetown, to just four points and two rebounds in the fourth quarter and overtime.
Hibbert had tallied 15 points and eight rebounds through three quarters, sparking an inside-out attack that baffled the Thunder and led to a 14-point Pacers lead.
â€œHe's a soldier,â€ said Kevin Durant of Green. â€œThat shows how much he wants to win. He's sacrificing his body for the team, because he could have gotten really injured but he stuck with it and got us a good win.â€
The Thunder shot just 38.9 percent for the game. Durant and Green combined to make 13 of 42 shots. OKC's bench scored only eight points on 2-for-14 shooting.