Short seven players, six to injury, one to league suspension, the Indiana Pacers came through to pick up a win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Pacers got familiar contributions from Malcolm Brogdon and Caris LeVert, but it was the play of Oshae Brissett that put them over the top tonight.
Brissett not only scored a career high 23 points in 42 minutes of action, but played big as the tallest player on the roster for the Pacers tonight. Brissett had 12 rebounds (four offensive) and three blocks, his third coming late in the fourth, leading to a big four point swing in Indiana’s favor.
The Myles Turner special for Oshae Brissett - block on one end, dunk on the other: pic.twitter.com/kOljv75e25— Tony East (@TEastNBA) April 22, 2021
The Pacers, on four threes to open the game, jumped ahead 18-12, but had to compose themselves after the Thunder ran off 10 straight as a response. That came in the form of four more threes to close the quarter, including a pair from T.J. McConnell, to push the Pacers back up by six.
Solid first half minutes off the bench by Aaron Holiday and Kelan Martin helped put the Pacers up double figures early in the second, but the lack of size favored the Thunder enough to keep the game from getting too far out of hand, keeping the game at 10 heading into the break.
After Brissett scored to put the Pacers up 12 with nine minutes left in the third, the Thunder began to really use their size, scoring 11 straight to make it a one-point game. Brissett was there with a three as a response, his first of two in the quarter, totaling 10 in the third. Brogdon had 11 of his own in the quarter, nine in the last six minutes, pushing the lead back up to double figures, albeit briefly, closing the quarter with a jumper to give Indiana a 93-86 lead.
Oklahoma City continued to push, twice bringing the game to a single possession, again cutting the lead to one with 5 minutes remaining. LeVert responded with five straight points, getting the lead back to six in time for Brissett’s block and layup play to follow.
Up nine with a minute remaining, the Pacers gave up two Oklahoma City layups and Brogdon, possibly looking for a foul, threw the ball behind him going out of bounds, leading to a timely Theo Maledon three that cut the lead to just two with 24.5 seconds on the clock. After a shaky situation crossing the half court with Justin Holiday, the Thunder ultimately fouled Brogdon, who hit his first two of four free throws to close out the win.
The Pacers played with really good pace for much of the night, despite the heavy minutes load logged on Brogdon, LeVert, and Brissett. Over 200 shots were attempted in the game, in large part due to a total of 32 offensive rebounds. The Thunder were at their best tonight simply overpowering the undersized Indiana frontcourt, scoring 76 paint points.
Fortunately, the Pacers were able to minimize the damage inside by hitting 14 threes on the night, six of the eight rotation players hitting multiple triples, led by Brogdon’s three. Brogdon had 29 to lead all scorers, coming up with 15 rebounds and seven assists in the process. LeVert meanwhile had 28 on the night, 12 in the fourth quarter.
The win snaps Indiana’s three game losing streak, improving them to 27-31. They remain two games ahead of Washington, who picked up their sixth straight win tonight and two and a half ahead of Toronto, winners of four straight. The Pacers will wrap up their three game home stand on Saturday night, facing the Detroit Pistons.