The Oklahoma City Thunder came out tonight with improved intensity and effort, but were unable to find the bottom of the net early on during this game. They shot under 30% through the first quarter, and then, to make matters worse, while the Thunder were struggling offensively, the Pacers were shooting lights out and opening up a solid lead. For the Thunder its hard enough to overcome a large deficit when the team wasn't shooting well, but became impossible when the Pacers were able to maintain a high level of shooting all night long and finished at near 50% to the Thunders 40%.
Just like Friday night, the only time the Thunder were really in this game was during the early parts of the second period. Shaun Livingston and D.J. White had entered the game and made an impact off the bench and finally got the Thunder offense rolling just a bit. They even managed to cut the lead to 7 as Kevin Durant found his stroke in route to a team high 19 points to close the first half (He only added 6 in the 2nd half). In his Thunder debut, D.J. White looked very impressive, considering he's played only a handful of games in the D-League. He finished with a very impressive 7-8 shooting, 14 points, and 2 rebounds. Another recent D-League call up, Shaun Livingston, continued to impress. He shot 5 out of 7 for 10 points, had 7 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 steals. These two guys had really great games even though the team had another really quite bad game.
Doing the damage for the Pacers was mostly Danny Granger with 24 points and Troy Murphy with 22 points. The Pacers other three starters Hibbert, Jack, and Rush all finished in double scoring. T.J. Ford also came off the bench to add 12 points. As a team, they were able to out rebound the Thunder, and of course blow the Thunder out of the water in field goal percentage. The most impressive thing about the win for the Pacers probably comes from their worst statistic of the night, 15 turnovers. That's the 2nd highest amount of turnovers the Thunder have forced in any game this season, and its a shame that even with all the turnovers they still couldn't stay in this game.
Nenad Krstic had one of his worst nights since joining the team. He shot an atrocious 1 for 13, to finish with 2 points. Coming into the 2nd half, it was clear that Coach Scott Brooks thought they had a mismatch inside with Krstic and wanted to exploit it as the team attempted to get back in the ballgame. After Krstic missed 4 shots in the first few minutes of the 2nd half, that strategy, clearly had to be abandoned. To make matters worse, while they were trying to get Krstic going, the Pacers were opening up a bigger lead. Next thing you know this game was out of hand, and after the third quarter, the Thunder really had no shot heading into the 4th quarter, trailing by 23 points.
I guess the good news is that the Spurs are heading into the Ford Center again on Tuesday, and the Thunder seem to have their number here lately. At the same time, I can't help but feel if they play like they did on Friday and tonight, that the Spurs will join in on the recent parade of teams really putting it to the Thunder on a nightly basis.