The warm air outside on Thursday allowed fans to leave their jackets in the car. Walking into the Fieldhouse on such a comfortable evening while it was still light outside, prepping for the Pacers to take on a marquee opponent, made for a mix that comes natural at BLF - a playoff atmosphere.
Paul George was back in town and the Thunder are just the type of talented playoff team the Pacers had yet to beat since losing Victor Oladipo for the season. Everyone wanted this to be memorable night before the Pacers left town for their gnarly upcoming road trip.
As the lead went back and forth early in the first quarter, the crowd was desperate to make an impact, hoping to get the Pacers to the end of the game with a chance to win. The energy was palpable.
But by the end of the first quarter, OKC established a seven-point lead and then nearly doubled that difference by the half. Things were a little too easy for the Thunder while the Pacers were scratching and clawing for good offensive looks.
The letdown seemed inevitable.
But when the Pacers showed signs of life in the second half, the fans at BLF were ready to go all in. Then when Cory Joseph banged home a half-court shot to end the third quarter, the hope and noise rose significantly. CoJo’s bomb cut a one-time 19-point deficit to seven as the teams went to winning time.
After the game, Pacers PR maven Eddie White talked about a new tagline for this team: Gold don’t quit! The team personified that phrase to close out the third quarter and they weren’t done.
The fourth quarter wasn’t easy but the Pacers and fans seemed to feed off each other and with Domantas Sabonis playing strong and smart, the whole place worked in tandem to will the Pacers to a desperately needed win. Wesley Matthews got a taste of what a home playoff game can be like and he thrived in the chaos. After locking up PG for a turnover and then following a Bogey miss for the game-winner, the newest Pacer capped off the best home game of the season in legendary fashion.
Check that -- it was the best home game of the season...so far. Just wait until the actual playoffs.
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