OKC Thunder struggle from deep vs Pacers

Mark Daigneault the head coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Mark Daigneault the head coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

The OKC Thunder seemed poised to have this game in the bag. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander returned from a two-game layoff. Tyrese Haliburton, and Myles Turner remained out for the Indiana Pacers. The stimulus from the Thunder’s perilous play-in hunt should have driven the young team’s ethos entering the matchup.

But it wasn’t meant to be for Oklahoma City and the Thunder remained where they are — possibly in a more precarious position now — in the hike for a play-in seat.

The OKC Thunder struggled to shoot from beyond the arc in their loss to the Pacers on Friday Night.

Shooting an uncharacteristic 13 percent from the three-point range, OKC Thunder succumbed to the Indiana Pacers, 117-121, on the road on Friday night, hurting their playoff aspirations.

The Thunder only nailed four threes out of their 30 attempts in the game. Prior to the matchup the team was shooting 36 percent from deep on about 12 makes per game.

However, the Thunder had their chances to sneak a win out of Indianapolis in Josh Giddey’s floater with 17 ticks left, and a Gilgeous-Alexander’s 14-footer jumper from the right corner off a successful overturned call for the Thunder — albeit both to no avail.

The loss put the Thunder at 38-40, just half-a-game above the 11th seed Dallas Mavericks, and have further sank their chances of rising in the standings, being a full game and a full game-and-a-half behind likewise play-in hopefuls Los Angeles Lakers, New Orleans Pelicans, and Minnesota Timberwolves with four games left in the season.

It’s worth noting, though, that the Thunder holds the tiebreaker edge over the Mavericks, giving them essentially a one-game advantage should there be a two-way for the final play-in spot.

Gilgeous-Alexander came out as if he never left, dropping 39 points on a perfect 17-of-17 shooting from the free-throw line alongside nine rebounds and four assists. He fouled out in the waning seconds of the fourth period, intentionally fouling Pacers’ Jalen Smith, who split the ensuing charities as the lead remained within one possession.

Without SGA to carry the cudgels, the Thunder bungled the final play as rookie Jalen Williams threw an ill-advised left-handed forward pass to a potentially open Isaiah Joe that led to a crucial turnover with about two seconds left in the game.

The rebounding woes of the Thunder — partly stemmed from the team’s lack of interior presence — bit OKC hard in the game, losing the battle on the boards, 49-64.

It also did not help that usual sniper Isaiah Joe went 0-of-8 from the three-point line with Aaron Wiggins, Lindy Waters III, and Giddey being the only guys who hit a three-pointer throughout the game.

Josh Giddey finished with 21 points, seven rebounds, and four assists on a 9-of-19 clip. Jalen Williams racked up 14 markers, six rebounds, and six assists while Lu Dort added 12 points and 10 boards.

T.J McConnell led the Pacers with 21 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists, while Andrew Nemhard backed him up with 18 points and six rebounds as all but two of the nine Pacers that played in the game scored at least 12 points in the matchup.

The Thunder will host the Phoenix Suns, which recently inserted Kevin Durant to their lineup, on Sunday night.

Next. The OKC Thunder showed their age this week. dark