The Thunder went through a points game Wednesday against a shorthanded Pacers team. Back-to-back career tie games for Darius Bazley and a 76-point record in the paint kept the Thunder in this one until the dying seconds.
The Thunder always goes through situational scenarios during training and the movie in preparation for any potential situation where the game may be in play with no downtime to waste. When that hypothetical moment came true in Wednesday night’s game, Darius Bazley’s heart began to race with excitement.
“The coach always shows us these different scenarios,” Bazley said. “For us, come back to the situation and then it happened, I was like ‘oh snap’. I never really felt like in a game like this where it actually happened. So when that happened, my heart was just beating real fast.
After a grueling racing game between the Thunder and the Pacers, OKC again struggled to come back from a double-digit deficit to put themselves in position to win the game with just seconds on the clock and a chance to run. one of those very late scenarios. It’s the kind of precious teaching moment that can’t be replicated through film or on a training ground – the only experience is the acting action.
The Thunder faced a Pacers side struggling with roster injuries that completely depleted their front line. With a smaller roster, the Pacers opened the game Wednesday by shooting from behind the arc. Of the 34 points Indiana put in in the first quarter, 24 came from the 3-point line. Despite the Pacers’ eight 3-pointers in the first frame, the Thunder’s attack kept pace, but in a very contrasting fashion – 22 of the Thunder’s 28 points came from the paint.
“Our guys are doing a really good job of driving in a straight line,” said Daigneault. “Obviously, Baze has been leading this charge lately. They are doing a great job. They hit the paint, they share the ball, they space the floor. This is how we want to play. “
Bazley led the offensive offense for the second night in a row with a career tie game in a row for 26 points. Similar to Monday’s performance, Bazley worked his way down the lane with several determined and energetic basket workouts that landed him a bucket or trips to the free throw line.
“He’s now chained four or five games where he really did that. Obviously he took a leap over there and he’s playing with that kind of mentality, ”said Daigneault. “He comes to his places and gets some really, really good plays in there – getting to the line. He does some very, very good things. He’s making progress.
Despite Bazley’s 13 points in the first half, the Thunder followed in double digits throughout the second period. Indiana continued their deep attack, but it was 20 second chance points that gave the Pacers a 10 point advantage in the locker room.
After a slow start from the third frame, the Thunder erupted on an 11-0 run that took the game to one point. The big man of thunder, Moses Brown, fanned the flames of the scoring explosion with several high-energy plays on the edge to secure the Second Chance buckets and give his team some much-needed boost.
“We just wanted to make sure we got everything we could on the glass and didn’t leave anything out in competition,” said Brown, who finished with 12 points. “We want to go out there and compete with maximum effort and solve the problems with five guys.”
Although the game reached a point, the Pacers duo of Malcolm Brogdon and Caris LeVert played equal roles to keep Indiana’s offense ahead of the Thunder throughout the night. In the third quarter, Brogdon had 11 points while LeVert scored 12 in the fourth. OKC, however, wouldn’t let this one get away so easily.
Entering the fourth quarter, the Thunder trailed by seven points. Throughout the frame, OKC’s deficit would ripple anywhere between a nine-point and three-point margin – until the last minute of the contest.
Svi Mykhailiuk grabbed an offensive rebound under the basket and finished a layup with one minute left to reduce the Pacers’ lead to seven points. At the other end of the field, LeVert missed a midrange jumper that landed in the hands of Bazley who erupted at the break.
The second-year forward bowed his head, hit the left side of the floor and knocked down a layup to bring the game down to just five points. Without a downtime from either team, the Pacers faced aggressive press all over the Thunder. Brogdon was cut off by Williams on the touchline, forced to resume his dribble and fire a prayer pass to his teammates. Ty Jerome stood in the path of the ball, intercepted the pass and returned it to Theo Maledon who was parked at the top of the key.
The 19-year-old rookie snatched the 3 point without hesitation and as the ball fell through the rim, Pacers head coach Nate Bjorkgren called a time out to sort out his squad who now maintained a precarious lead of two points with just 24.5 seconds. on the clock.
“We wanted to put pressure. We did what we were supposed to do, ”Mykhailiuk said. “We did what the coach told us to do. It worked, we got a flight and did a 3. I feel like it was a great location, great game.
Out of the timeout, OKC was forced to foul Brogdon who knocked down both free throws to send the game back to two possessions with just 17.2 seconds left. After a missed shot by the Thunder at the other end of the floor, Brogdon returned to the line with 6.1 seconds left and would sink two more free throws to seal the deal.
“It’s a running game right now,” Daigneault said. “We played with a bit of a deficit tonight on the home stretch. I’m happy with the way we hung on, we brought it back to two and we gave each other a chance.
Immediately following his 26-point performance on Monday against the Wizards, Bazley maintained the same level of aggression and strength towards the rim on Wednesday night. Fueled by a size advantage and the momentum of a career night, Bazley’s performance started early against the Pacers.
In the opening minutes, the 6-foot-8 guard caught the ball on the right wing, patiently used a false shot to clear his defender out of his way and after two short dribbles he jumped into open space at the board for two. slam handed.
– OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) April 21, 2021
The Thunder capitalized on their size advantage indoors and beat the Pacers 76-52 on points in the paint. The 76 points are equal for the most points of the painting in the history of OKC.
While Coach Daigneault’s team certainly looked to take advantage of the size gap, the rim attacks were more the result of the Thunder sticking to their offensive identity that values touches of paint. on the discs, letting the game develop and finding the player open.
“During that time, we’ve been doing things that hurt us and some things we need to clean up, but one of the things we’ve really done for probably a 10 or 15 game streak now is that we hit the paint with. the ball, ”said Daigneault. “We opened up the floor, the guys are driving and kicking and we get 100 dabs of paint a night, or so. Many of the dots in tonight’s painting were a by-product of it.
“We got closer. We had a single possession game. The main thing was just to compete, stay together, play hard on defense and make the right decision on offense.”
“It’s hard to win these games so we just need to be better while still maintaining the competitive spirit and the unity that we play with, because we do these things. This is why we are in these games. It will just take a few more runs to get over the bump. ”
The Thunder will return to the familiar confines of Chesapeake Energy Arena on Friday for a 7 p.m. CT rematch against the Wizards which the team faced in Washington on Monday. From there, the team will hit the road for a three-game stint that begins with a back-to-back game in the Northeast against Philadelphia and Boston.
– Bally Sports Oklahoma (@BallySportsOK) April 22, 2021