Preview: Pacers seek win over Thunder in finale of five-game trip
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 their best start there since they went 12-0 as the Seattle SuperSonics in 1993-94. Oklahoma City has won seven of its last eight home games 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 OK.”
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.