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Pacers resemble themselves again, beat Thunder

Apr 13, 2014, 4:33 PM EDT

Lance Stephenson Lance Stephenson

In spite of it all, Indiana may have home court throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Which is huge — at home in recent weeks they have beaten the Miami Heat and now Oklahoma City Thunder, but they are a 20-20 team on the road. If they still have dreams of the NBA Finals they needed a Game 7 vs. Miami at home. Now they get that with a win Wednesday vs. Orlando (or a Miami loss in its final two games).

Indiana has that chance because of a hard-fought 102-97 win over the Thunder Sunday.

Most important, they looked better on offense and more like their old selves. Like the version of themselves that was a title contender.

David West was overpowering inside and had 21 points on 11 shots. Paul George had 20 points and hit a key three over Kevin Durant late (plus he hit one when the game was tied). Lance Stephenson had 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting and was knocking down shots and mugging for the camera. C.J. Watson — who had missed considerable time during the Pacers’ slump due to hamstring and elbow issues — was back adding scoring punch off the bench and putting up 20 points. As a team the Pacers shot 52.8 percent.

That shooting let the Pacers get away with turning the ball over of 24.2 percent of their possessions. That kind of sloppy play will get them in trouble most days.

The Pacers defense also was in good form and held one of the best offenses in the NBA to 42.9 percent shooting and 4.2 points per 100 below their season average.

The first half of the game was at a tempo the Thunder should have liked, but they never really got it going.

One key reason they missed their threes — 7-of-28 as a team. Kevin Durant was 2-of-11 from deep, Russell Westbrook 3-of-10. Durant finished with 37 points, Westbrook had 21 points on 23 shots.

One win will not change the Pacers slump around, but it has to start somewhere. This win — and home court through the Eastern Conference — is a good start.

  1. 12444uggg - Apr 13, 2014 at 4:40 PM

    It’s easy for you guys who don’t like the Pacers to throw dirt on them, but this team showed it’s better form today. They have an answer for plenty of teams in the playoffs.

    • davidly - Apr 13, 2014 at 5:18 PM

      Pacers fans remember last year, though, and how everybody wrote them off because they finished 9-8 and 1-5. But they still knocked off the Knicks who’d finished 16-2. After that, suddenly, everybody tuned in.

  2. ProBasketballPundit - Apr 13, 2014 at 4:43 PM

    Lance Stephenson was pumped about the win, but he was absolutely manic about the rebound that secured his triple-double.

  3. antistratfordian - Apr 13, 2014 at 4:52 PM

    Durant is far too prone to do something like shoot 2-11 from three, and he shouldn’t be. That characteristic of his (we call it “chucking” where I’m from) – coupled with Westbrook’s – is why I’m not so keen on the Thunder being able to beat Miami in a playoff series.

    It is really a nonsensical philosophy that chuckers have that gets them into trouble i.e. they keep shooting even when they’re off – so they end up shooting 2 for 11, or 4 for 15 or 3 for 13, which is very damaging to their team because it puts unnecessary pressure on their defense. If Durant is taking a lot of threes, that means he’s missing a lot of threes… and it really makes no sense at all, but that’s what he does.

    Players like Michael Jordan and LeBron James (who have 9 MVPs between them) only keep shooting threes if they’re making them – otherwise they take smarter shots. These less accomplished chuckers should take note.

  4. thevikesarebest - Apr 13, 2014 at 4:57 PM

    They will lose to the lolcats in the first round 4-1.have fun.

    • jkirby317 - Apr 13, 2014 at 7:35 PM

      and the vikings will draft Derek Carr and make AP retire like Barry Sanders.

    • john242322 - Apr 14, 2014 at 11:21 AM

      What an embarrassing statement made by you. You’re clearly a moron

  5. davidly - Apr 13, 2014 at 5:01 PM

    They might even get to let their bench have Orlando Wednesday if Washington brings it tomorrow. If the Heat really don’t care about home court, they’ll give more than Wade the night off.

  6. cantonbound13 - Apr 13, 2014 at 5:04 PM

    Lets go Pacers!

  7. antistratfordian - Apr 13, 2014 at 5:18 PM

    No mention of Roy Hibbert in this article? 0-9 in 27 minutes? They won’t win a single game in a series against Miami if Hibbert keeps this up.

    • whatacrocker - Apr 13, 2014 at 5:32 PM

      They will advance easily. LeBron “overrated” James and his cast of old, injured has beens will be lucky to make it out of the first round.

      • antistratfordian - Apr 21, 2014 at 3:36 PM

        Easily?

    • notinmyhouse56 - Apr 13, 2014 at 6:03 PM

      Roy has been putting up some pathetic effort late

      • antistratfordian - Apr 13, 2014 at 6:36 PM

        Yes. And he was previously the only perceived “advantage” the Pacers had over the Heat. Without that, how can they even take a game off Miami?

        So now he’s almost totally ineffective, and not only that but the Heat are not afraid to drive right at him anymore (not even Mario Chalmers) because they know he’s afraid to get into foul trouble.

      • jkirby317 - Apr 13, 2014 at 7:33 PM

        Today, Hibbert put up 9 shots missing all of them but his effort was there. He took good (make-able) shots that didn’t fall.

        Everyone assumes that if they were 7ft tall they would dominate the NBA like Shaq every game.

        What do you want Roy to do? Not shoot if his shot is falling? Go 0-1 and never shoot again?

        The Pacers need Hibbert to play defense, set screens, and make smart passes.

        Indy will be fine with Hibbert.

    • jkirby317 - Apr 13, 2014 at 7:38 PM

      Roy dominates Miami. He plays his best basketball against the Heat and if you do not recognize that then you have no idea what you are saying.

      • fanofthegame79 - Apr 13, 2014 at 7:52 PM

        He had 5 points and 1 rebound the other night against the Heat. It would be an anomaly if he hasn’t been playing so poorly of late.

      • jkirby317 - Apr 14, 2014 at 3:43 PM

        the other night?
        When he didn’t play much at all?
        Lets talk if the Heat make it to the ECF about how significant Roy is…

      • fanofthegame79 - Apr 14, 2014 at 9:50 PM

        Likewise.

      • fanofthegame79 - Apr 14, 2014 at 9:51 PM

        Sorry…didn’t play much at all?!? He played 27 minutes and had 5 points and 1 rebound.

      • antistratfordian - Apr 13, 2014 at 7:52 PM

        Dominates!!? Ha! This year he’s averaging 14 points, 3 rebounds and 1 block a game vs Miami.

        Over the last two regular seasons he’s averaging 12 points, 5 rebounds and 0.8 blocks against Miami.

        Throw in last year’s playoffs if you want, and over the last two seasons he’s still only averaged 17 points, 7 rebounds and 0.9 blocks against Miami.

        He hasn’t been dominating anybody.

  8. xli2006 - Apr 13, 2014 at 5:36 PM

    For all the trash the media and critics heaped on the Pacers, here they are with 1 game to go in control of the 1 seed.

    Healthy, a deep roster, and one of the best defenses in the NBA, can’t ask for much more than that.

    • antistratfordian - Apr 13, 2014 at 5:57 PM

      You could’ve asked for more than a .517 win percentage after entering the all-star break with a .769 win percentage.

      Every team in NBA history who has entered the all-star break with a .700 win percentage or better, and finished the rest of season with a .529 win percentage or worse, lost in the first round.

      • casualcommenter - Apr 13, 2014 at 7:51 PM

        By your logic, the fact that the Pacers started the season strong before struggling after the All-Star break and likely finishing this season with “only” 55 or 56 wins means they could lose in the first round of the playoffs.

        Meanwhile, the fact that the Heat started the season strong before struggling after the All-Star break and likely finishing this season with “only” 54 or 55 wins means LeBron should win MVP and the Heat will win a championship.

        #TrollLogic

      • antistratfordian - Apr 13, 2014 at 8:15 PM

        Miami’s win percentage after the All-Star break is .607. That’s a little better than the Pacer’s .517.

      • fanofthegame79 - Apr 13, 2014 at 7:54 PM

        Casual, that would have been a valid point if the Heat haven’t been to the last 3 NBA Finals and won the last 2. There’s something to be said about experience and Indiana doesn’t have it, not to mention a proven track record of winning when it counts.

      • pacersfan1 - Apr 13, 2014 at 8:34 PM

        Why do all of the heat fans want to worry so much about the pacers getting bounced in the first round? The heat look like hot garbage lately. And before the heat fans bring up the last game against the pacers. It was at their house and that is why the pacers want the one seed. I don’t know if the pacers and the heat will meet in the ECC. But I hope both teams get there so the pacers can smack them down in game 7 at BLF the best home court and fans in the NBA.

      • antistratfordian - Apr 13, 2014 at 8:52 PM

        If the Heat look like garbage then what do you think the Pacers look like?

        It’s hard for anyone to worry about a team with LeBron James that are reigning back-to-back champions who still have a chance to land the #1 seed in their conference. Everyone predicted that Miami would struggle to find passion for the regular season after 3 straight years of going to the finals, so are you really surprised by that?

        Besides, LeBron has taken a team to the finals with much less help against tougher and more experienced competition in the East (the 2007 Pistons).

      • sdlakerfan - Apr 14, 2014 at 9:36 PM

        @anti

        #1 – have no idea why there are more down votes than up. this is nothing more or less than cool and correct data.

        #2 – ’95 Rockets won 64% in the first half, 48% in the second half and won the championship. doesn’t prove you wrong but does belie your point. Like the Pacers, they seemed to have some chemistry issues after a trade (for Clyde Drexler).

        #3 – Do you really think the Pacers are going to lose in the first round? .517 in the 2nd half or not I think it’s most likely that the Pacers and Heat duke it out in an epic ECF. That’s what I’m hoping for anyway. Yikes – Atlanta took 3 of 4 from the Pacers this yr.

      • antistratfordian - Apr 14, 2014 at 9:54 PM

        The 1995 Rockets finished that season 18-17 (.514) – not counting the last game as they sat Hakeem while the Jazz went with all of their starters.

        But the 1995 Rockets were defending champs built around this one really incredible hall of fame player, and they were more balanced with a top 7 offense and a top 12 defense. Plus, they traded for another hall of famer in the middle of that season – Clyde Drexler. So they were not anything like these Pacers at all.

        If the Heat did what the Pacers did this year we would be less concerned because of who they have and their championship history.

        And yes, the Pacers could lose in the first round. I don’t know if they will, but they certainly could.

      • sdlakerfan - Apr 15, 2014 at 2:28 AM

        ’95 Rockets went won 20 out of their last 42 games – thus 48%. Didn’t go by after the all star break.

        Compared them to the Pacers in that they had a roster shakeup mid-season that seemed to mess with their chemistry. Takes a while to gel or Miami would probably have 3 titles in a row.

        Anyone “could” lose. I think they’ll be the first to win a playoff series with a .529 win percentage or less. But a very interesting point nonetheless.

      • antistratfordian - Apr 15, 2014 at 3:26 PM

        Well the Sonics once finished a season .531 and lost in the second round – so the Pacers might fall more into a grouping with them.

        But why would anyone feel confident in the Pacers beating Atlanta?

    • money2long - Apr 14, 2014 at 2:33 AM

      I was one of the rare few defending the pacers through the chaos. A lot of ppl usually just follow in on the criticism like drones. Sports fans can be fickle

  9. sportfan2 - Apr 13, 2014 at 6:19 PM

    in spite of 21 turnovers this was good win for the Pacers,

  10. jzone954 - Apr 13, 2014 at 6:30 PM

    Just goes to show you, the 2014 champion is coming out of the East period….

    • savvybynature - Apr 13, 2014 at 8:45 PM

      Keep in mind that OKC had absolutely nothing to play for with San Antonio already locking up HCA.
      One game doesn’t tell you a whole lot in my opinion. After all, the Spurs stomped the Pacers and Miami by 20+ points the last time they played, but that doesn’t guarantee that a new champion will be crowned in the West either.

      • money2long - Apr 14, 2014 at 2:35 AM

        Your comment makes no sense seeing as how the thunder were trying to win the game. Your statement is irrelevant

      • savvybynature - Apr 14, 2014 at 3:11 AM

        Have you ever played basketball? You definitely want to win some games more than others. The Pacers were at home with a chance to basically lock-up the Eastern Conference with a win. OKC wanted to win because it’s more fun to win than to lose, and it might build confidence, but it wouldn’t impact their playoff scenario either way. Those are not equal incentives.
        In the Finals, the Western Conference team will likely have home court advantage and teams will have equal incentives (and rest). Much different circumstances.
        The game has already been decided so every comment about it is irrelevant in that sense. Hope it didn’t take you long to figure that out.

      • davidly - Apr 14, 2014 at 6:25 AM

        I agree with your overall conclusion, but hasten to add that the Thunder’s magic number for the two seed is still 1 — ie., they did have something to play for. Granted, NO or Detroit may seem like a lock, but I think they’d’ve rather sat some guys for those.

      • money2long - Apr 14, 2014 at 12:39 PM

        Just because you want to win some games more than others DOESNT mean u r in ANY game with a chance to win, and play like , screw it. The thunder were competing. U make no sense. The fact that u admit they wanted to win is all that matters. This is a silly argument ur making. So sad

  11. Jeff - Apr 13, 2014 at 6:37 PM

    Well Pacers won another game against a good team, good for them.
    But I’m sorry, I still don’t see them getting out of the first round.
    The Pacers just haven’t played consistently enough against good teams this last month and half. It’s not necessarily the losses or the record. It’s the way the Pacers lost. They lost horribly.

    • 12444uggg - Apr 13, 2014 at 6:56 PM

      Huh, What?

      You really think the Hawks or Bob’s can win a 7 game series agains a team who has win’s over every team in the league and is going to be the 1 seed?

      You do.

      lol

      • fanofthegame79 - Apr 13, 2014 at 7:57 PM

        I don’t see that happening, but the Hawks would be an interesting match up – they’ve had some very impressive wins in the last 2 weeks, which is the right time to start hitting your stride (going into the playoffs).

      • money2long - Apr 14, 2014 at 2:39 AM

        I’m sorry. But even as I defended the pacers , a lot of detractors during the storm the pacers were going through dismissed my claim of their record and basically said nothing mattered before this slump because how they are playing now will be how they play in the playoffs. The critics and followers and drones and fickle fans were completely writing off the pacers and adopting the new look pacers , u know , the team that was slumping. They discounted everything they did before. They pretty much forgot who the pacers were. And ignored the bigger picture. So sad how fans allow themselves to think

    • john242322 - Apr 14, 2014 at 11:30 AM

      Jeff you clearly know nothing about Pacers BBall. The is no chance in hell that the Pacers lose in the first round. literally no chance…Try to refrain yourself from making dumbass comments like this

  12. jbeagles23 - Apr 13, 2014 at 7:41 PM

    Hey Kirby he really had a good game against the heat the other night. That one rebound was fantastic

  13. cantonbound13 - Apr 13, 2014 at 8:13 PM

    Thousands of Pacer fans in Miami rooting for you guys! Beat the classless Heat!

  14. savvybynature - Apr 13, 2014 at 8:54 PM

    Watson gets the metaphorical game ball for the Pacers imo. He basically kept them in the game single-handedly in the first half, and then the starters seemed to realize, “Oh yeah, we can win this game and probably should try to do that since home court is on the line.”
    I forgot how important he is to that team. Everyone seems to thrive off his drama-free, high-effort professionalism, which isn’t all that surprising since those are qualities this team sorely lacks at times!

    • tashab03 - Apr 13, 2014 at 9:00 PM

      Yes he’s important! Pacers need him. I wish he started over Hill.

  15. campcouch - Apr 13, 2014 at 11:07 PM

    yawn.

  16. realfootballfan - Apr 13, 2014 at 11:27 PM

    Hell, they better try to tank because if they play the Nets in the second round, it’s going to be a wrap.

    • pacersfan1 - Apr 14, 2014 at 1:18 PM

      That’s right. The same nets team that 0 and 4 against the pacers this year. Come on man!

  17. realfootballfan - Apr 13, 2014 at 11:32 PM

    Imo, there are only 3 teams that can win this thing: the Heat, the Spurs, or the Clippers, and their problem is that the Spurs and Thunder are a bad matchup for them so they might never get to the Finals.

  18. davidly - Apr 14, 2014 at 6:31 AM

    To everyone ripping on Hibbert: he may not be lightin’ anyone up, to put it mildly, but if you don’t think he is a big reason why Indiana held a team that shoots 106 pts a game at 47 percent to 97pts at 43 percent, then you’re not a big enough hoops nerd.

    And to those who say the Pacers can’t win with him putting up oughts over seven games: He’s not gonna do that over seven games.

    • gostlcards5 - Apr 14, 2014 at 1:56 PM

      Also, he was engaged and putting in effort to get shots in good spots, which happened on several occasions. They simply weren’t falling. If he plays the way he did (offensively) yesterday, Indy will get much more out of him.

  19. truthb3t0ld - Apr 14, 2014 at 9:20 AM

    The Thunder already had the 2 seed locked up before the game against the Pacers by virtue of being 2.5 games ahead of the Clippers with the Clippers only having two games left…

    • davidly - Apr 14, 2014 at 9:47 AM

      Nope. Their magic number is still 1. While quite unlikely, if the Clippers win out and Ok City loses their last two, the LA get the 2 seed based on the conference record tie-break.

  20. jbeagles23 - Apr 14, 2014 at 10:18 AM

    Indiana will beat atl in 5. However they lack the firepower to beat Brooklyn or Chicago Indiana got what they wanted in first place. However their road to the finals is harder than the heats

  21. Miami305 - Apr 14, 2014 at 11:32 AM

    Let’s not overlook the obvious: The Thunder allowed the Pacers to win on purpose knowing that it would give the Pacers a little edge against Miami if their series goes to a game 7. In the event that the Thunder go to the Finals, they would much prefer to go up against the Pacers instead of Miami. The Thunder made it look like it was a close game, but they voluntarily gave it up and everyone knows it.

    • pacersfan1 - Apr 14, 2014 at 1:27 PM

      You got to be joking. Do you also believe in the Easter bunny. You give heat fans even more of a bad name.

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