The Thunder stepped into the Thomas and Mack Center, looking for redemption.
Oklahoma City faded against the Warriors the night before and had been knocked out of contention for the championship game.
A win against the Pacers would have rescued some pride.
That didn’t happen as the Thunder fell to the Pacers 95-61.
The game was out of the Thunder’s hands after the first half. Indiana established an 11-point lead going into the break and never looked back. The Pacers harangued and harassed the Thunder into countless turnovers, sloppy passes, and ill-advised shots.
The ball movement and spacing preached by head coach Mark Daigneault were nowhere to be seen. Oklahoma City just looked overwhelmed against a hungry, relentless Pacers’ team. There were very few positives from tonight’s game for the Thunder.
Jeremiah Robinson-Earl has been the best player for the Thunder over these last four games, and it was no different against the Pacers. His energy and intelligence kept the Thunder in the game at times. Robinson-Earl would get a timely basket or a defensive stop, providing a degree of hope for the Thunder.
I think it is clear that he is ready for a role in the Thunder’s rotation going forward. I would love to see him coming off the bench and playing center for the Thunder. His versatility on defense and feel for the game would be a useful complement to the creation provided by Theo Maledon and Ty Jerome.
Jaylen Hoard found his shot tonight after a rough week from the field. Hoard scored 16 points and seemed to find his confidence in the third quarter. The next step for Hoard is working out how to be productive during those barren spells.
It is not ideal that the Thunder suffered an embarrassing loss against the Pacers tonight. However, it is only Summer League, and I feel fairly certain that many of these players will look more comfortable after training camps.
We should also remember that the Thunder were handicapped by the unavailability of Josh Giddey and Tre Mann. It is hard to win games when playmaking is a scarce resource for the roster. Las Vegas has not brought riches to the Thunder this year, but the start of the season will be the first real test for the Thunder’s young players.