Pacers-Thunder Preview

The Indiana Pacers easily dispatched a leading team in the

Western Conference in one of the final games of a lengthy road

trip.

They won’t have to wait long to face another one of the West’s

best.

Indiana will try to conclude its five-game trek by ending the

Oklahoma City Thunder’s perfect home record Sunday night.

After trailing by 13 in the first half, the Pacers (18-2) led by

as many as 26 in the fourth quarter of a 111-100 victory against

San Antonio and snapped an 11-game skid to the perennial title

contender. Paul George’s 28 points led seven players in double

figures, and David West scored 20 while making 9 of 12 shots.

“I couldn’t be happier with how they played, particularly in the

second and third quarter,” coach Frank Vogel said. “Second quarter,

getting back in the game, but in the third quarter, really busting

it open. Tough to pick a star in the game with as many

contributions as we got. Just great balance and a great team

win.”

The victory boosted Indiana to 3-1 on its trip and was also its

ninth in the last 10 overall. The Pacers will try to close out

their trek by beating a team that’s been equally as hot.

Oklahoma City (14-4) bounced back from its lone defeat in its

last 10 games – 111-104 at Portland on Wednesday – with a 109-95

win in New Orleans on Friday.

“We were really disappointed in how we lost last game and wanted

to be better,” said Kevin Durant, who scored a team-leading 29

points. “We’re a really good team after losses.”

The Thunder, 9-0 on their own floor, will seek the franchise’s

best start at home since they opened 12-0 as the Seattle

SuperSonics in 1993-94. Oklahoma City has won seven of its last

eight at home against Indiana and the past three by an average of

13.7 points.

The Pacers are the league’s only other team without a home loss

so far, also going 9-0.

“We’re going to play against a very good team that is playing

extremely well right now, so it’s going to be a challenge,” guard

Thabo Sefolosha told the team’s website. “If we focus on us and do

the things we know we’re good at and are successful at doing, we’ll

be okay.”

The Thunder have taken four of five overall in the series and

won last season’s two games by a combined 33 points. Durant

averaged 30.5 points and 8.5 rebounds in those two victories and

his 30.1-point average in 11 career matchups with Indiana is his

second-best against any opponent.

Russell Westbrook is averaging 26.0 points, 8.2 assists and 7.2

rebounds in his last five games against the Pacers.

George is averaging 10.3 points and shooting 31.1 percent in his

four career games versus the Thunder but is among the league’s

leading scorers with 24.8 points per game this season. He’s

averaged 26.6 on the road.

West is averaging 25.0 points and shooting 54.8 percent shooting

in his last six visits to Oklahoma City.