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Pacers 121, Thunder 101: Granger Dominates Durant As Pacers Cruise Past Thunder

Not only did the Indiana Pacers win the game, 121-101 over the Oklahoma City Thunder, they also won the first and second half, all four quarters and for all intents and purposes each of the 48 minutes of play at the Fieldhouse today.

OK, I'll give the Thunder a couple of garbage time minutes at the end of the game, but you get the point.

This was the Pacers biggest and arguably the most complete win of the season. The 20-point margin of victory short-changes the way the Pacers dominated the game with closer to a 30-point margin throughout much of the second half.

By biggest win, I obviously mean the margin of victory not the importance because, well, the W doesn't do much good except for the players and coach of the current team. Still, there's plenty to feel good about from this afternoon delight. All five starters scored in double-figures and the quint combined for 100 of the Pacers' 121 points on the night.

The most important take away for the day, though, comes from Danny Granger dominating his matchup with Kevin Durant. In their last meeting in Oklahoma City, Durant carried the Thunder with 40 points and 12 rebounds on 18 shot attempts. Granger had just returned from injury and needed 21 shots to score 25 points, but was left frustrated and fuming after coming up empty in crunch time while taking several ill-advised shots.

Granger was primed and ready for the matchup today.  The Pacers top scorer showed up at both ends of the floor to set the tone for the Pacers' victory and leave Durant slumped over on the bench for much of the fourth-quarter.

Midway through the first quarter, Granger swiped the ball from Durant, not once but twice. Not content with the steal, Granger left Durant in his dust both times by racing up the court with the ball to score twice at the rim. Granger finished the game with 32 points and 7 rebounds in 32 minutes. An impressive offensive outing  for Granger without doubt, but not unexpected for the high-scoring forward.

The unexpected numbers come via his matchup for the Thunder. Durant played about the same amount of time as Granger but only scored 16 points and 16 shots and also burped up 5 turnovers. Those 16 points were Durant's lowest scoring output since scoring just 13 at Houston on DECEMBER 19th! It was also only the third time since the Houston game that Durant has been held below 25 points.

So lineup all of the excuses you want for OKC (my favorite, a day game after a Jay-Z concert), bottom line is the Pacers punished the Thunder in this one.

More thoughts and observations after the jump since Granger had plenty of help.

  • Once again, the Pacers played to win at full throttle, only giving A.J. Price, Josh McRoberts and Solo Jones significant minutes once it was decided early in the fourth. So all of the individual positives from today are worth noting, as is the fact that the Pacers slid down the upside down standings again.
  • Roy Hibbert and Earl Watson started the game on point, just as Granger did. Hibbert scored seven quick points early in the first quarter, while a pair of 3-pointers by Watson late in the first gave the Pacers their early cushion.
  • Hibbert struggled at times against the OKC front-court, even finding himself on the wrong end of a few buckets by former Georgetown teammate Jeff Green. The Pacers' big only played 25 minutes but was able to contribute 20 points and 8 rebounds while picking his spots.
  • Watson scored all of his 11 points in the first half as Russell Westbrook only played a few first half minutes. The Pacers PG was ready for his former mates today.
  • Russell Westbrook matched his uniform number with 0 points on the day. His backup, rookie Eric Maynor showed up well with 15 points and 11 assists, although a lot of that damage was down 20-plus in the second half. Still, Maynor looked like a solid PG, especially as a backup.
  • Troy Murphy put up his double-double after finding the range from behind the arc. Murphy made four threes to finish with 22 points and 13 rebounds.
  • OKC was a frustrated bunch today and it continued to build throughout the game. Russell Westbrook picked up a technical from the bench while arguing on behalf of Kevin Durant. Then a little bit later, Nick Collison, a strong, consistent post presence off the bench for the Thunder was moved to chuck the ball after his frustrations with the refs and dealing with Roy were more than he could take. 
  • It was real nice seeing former IU player, D.J. White play some garbage time in the fourth quarter for OKC. White has struggled since becoming pro, dealing with a few injury set backs while trying to establish himself with the Thunder.