Paul George looked like he was primed to beat up on his former team for a third straight time when his Oklahoma City Thunder went up by 19 on the Indiana Pacers after his third quarter free throw.
But after that point, the Pacers stormed back for a 108-106 victory on Thursday, capping it off on Wesley Matthews’ go-ahead tip-in with 1.8 seconds left.
The Pacers were able to cut the deficit to just seven by the end of the third quarter, thanks in part to another last-second shot. Following a pair of free throws from George with 1.9 seconds left, Indiana inbounded the ball to Cory Joseph, who launched and hit a halfcourt shot — his first ever make in 10 tries.
Indiana continued the comeback into the fourth quarter, eventually getting within one point with 4:04 left on Darren Collison’s shot at the basket. They then took their first lead since five minutes into the contest on a Myles Turner dunk with 2:50 left.
The teams continued to trade leads until the final minute, when George committed two turnovers in the final 40 seconds, giving the Pacers back the ball with the shot clock off. Bojan Bogdanovic missed a 16-foot jumper, but Matthews was able to run in from the perimeter to put the ball back in for the win.
The Thunder had one more chance to tie or win the game in the closing seconds, but Russell Westbrook missed a potential game-winning three from 29 feet out.
Matthews’ impact on the Pacers
Matthews has been a key pickup for the Pacers after the trade deadline. The 6-foot-5 wing was initially traded from the Dallas Mavericks to the New York Knicks in the Kristaps Porzingis trade, but the tanking — err, rebuilding — Knicks cut him loose shortly thereafter.
Matthews ultimately chose to sign with the Pacers — who had recently lost star guard Victor Oladipo — over other contenders like the Philadelphia 76ers. While Matthews doesn’t have Oladipo’s ability to dominate a game, he’s a strong three-point shooter with 37.4 percent accuracy on 6.0 attempts per game.
The Pacers are only 7-6 since his addition this season, but he adds much-needed depth to their rotation. Indiana currently sits third in the East at 44-25 but is only up two games on the No. 5 seed Boston Celtics, and home court advantage will be key to any first-round series.
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