Back-to-back road games against tough teams aren’t exactly the easiest ways to get wins in the NBA, but Kevin Durant, shaking off a bruised left calf, and Russell Westbrook, didn’t let the excuse of fatigue get to them, putting on another individual scoring clinic to put in the usual example of just how talented scorers they are.
This time, the offense came with some impressive defense on the road, as the Thunder beat the Pacers 97-75, making it only 81.5 points per game allowed in the two nights, beating the Spurs and the Pacers. Kevin Durant scored 34 points on 13-21 from the field, adding 9 rebounds, shaking off an injury that was probably exaggerated by him and the team’s staff, as every little thing is usually in the NBA.
Russell Westbrook didn’t really seem to feel generous and give the top scorer in the NBA the chance to take more field goal attempts for once, shooting an unimpressive 10-24, but did add 7 rebounds and 9 assists to go with his 24 points. Westbrook continues to be the guy who can’t be stopped on the floor, as the highly praised Pacers defense couldn’t keep up with his slashing and energy, but can be halted by his own rash and weird decision making when it comes to shots.
The Thunder did a great job defensively, making the misses by Westbrook seem just like a normal thing, which actually they are. Frank Vogel has spoken not too long ago about some of the Pacers players hitting a minutes-wall this season, not used to being starters, major players for an entire season. Paul George’s production has been falling off (finishing with only 8 points), and the same goes for George Hill, scoring 10 points on 4-12 from the field, while the Pacers shot 37.5% from the field and an awful 9.5% from beyond the arc.
But with all that talk of a wall, the Pacers won five games in a row, four of them on the road. They had four days of rest before entertaining the Thunder. They’re not that much inferior to Oklahoma City, but their offense probably is. Their fourth quarter, scoring just 8 points, was embarrassing, to say the least. Worrying, to be even more frank.
And the Thunder? They just carry on, with their same kind of up-tempo basketball, with the only thing that changes is the effort they put in on defense. When that things happens on a consistent level throughout the game, they’re probably the best thing in the NBA not called the Miami Heat.