Thunder 118, Pacers 94
OKLAHOMA CITY - Forward Kevin Durant scored 36 points to lead the Oklahoma City Thunder past the Indiana Pacers 118-94 Sunday at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Durant shot 14-of-23 from the field, collected 10 rebounds and added five assists. Guard Russell Westbrook came up short of a triple double with 26 points, seven rebounds and 13 assists.
Guard Paul George fought to keep the Pacers (18-3) competitive as he scored a team-high 32 points on 9-for-17 shooting. Center Roy Hibbert added 12 points and nine rebounds. However, the NBA's leading shot-blocker ended the night with zero blocks.
Coming off a hard-fought win over San Antonio Saturday, the Pacers dropped to 4-3 on the second night of back-to-back games.
Several times this season, Durant has let the game come to him to start games. But looking to set a tone against the best team in the Eastern Conference, he was in attack mode from the opening jump ball. The three-time scoring champion scored nine of the Thunder's first 11 points as he had his jump shot going while also driving to the rim for contested layups.
Durant ended the period with 14 points and Oklahoma City (15-4) held a 28-18 advantage.
The Pacers came out in the second quarter trying to stop the Thunder's momentum. That included George, who normally starts the period on the bench.
But Indiana couldn't buy a basket. The team did not hit a 3-pointer the entire first half and shot only 32.6 percent from the field.
Even more distressing for the Pacers was their inability to get stops. The Pacers are the top defensive team in the league statistically, and frustration could be seen on the faces of forward David West, Hibbert and George as they watched the Thunder get virtually any shot they wanted.
Oklahoma City held a 19-point halftime lead.
The Pacers came out of halftime looking to feed George and get him started. After being held to six first-half points, the NBA's fourth-leading scorer needed to get rolling if his team was going to get back into the game.
With his team trailing by 24 points, George helped close the gap to 92-76 early in the fourth period.
But the Thunder wouldn't allow Indy to get any closer and the Pacers emptied their bench with 6:35 left in the fourth quarter
NOTES: Indiana and Oklahoma City are two of the top defensive units in the NBA. Entering Sunday's action, the Pacers led the league, allowing only 39.8 percent shooting from the field, while the Thunder were third at 42.4 percent. But Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks doesn't think his team gets the same credit as an elite defensive unit. "With our team, we've been known as just an offensive team that really focuses on scoring the basketball," Brooks said. "But if you look at the last three years, we've won a lot of games with our defense. We've always been that way. I think our guys deserve more credit for doing that." ... Indiana coach Frank Vogel raved about the development of guard Lance Stephenson. "It's been every bit as much as Paul George's. I don't want to understate that. They should have finished first and second in Most Improved last year. You can make an argument that Lance is the most improved this year."