Pacers clip Thunder, move ahead of HeatApr 13, 2014 - 10:55 PM Indiana Pacers moved a step closer to home-court advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs with a 102-97 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Indiana climbed a half-game ahead of Miami, which was idle Sunday, for the No. 1 seed in the East. The Pacers, who lost at Miami Friday, finished with the NBA's best home mark at 35-6 and will complete the regular season Wednesday at Orlando. The Heat play in Washington on Monday and host Philadelphia on Wednesday, but it's the Pacers who own the tiebreaker and control their own destiny.
Stephenson had 17 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists for his NBA-leading fifth triple-double of the year. George totaled 20 points and 12 rebounds, while David West scored 21 as the Pacers won for just the third time in nine games.
"We've been steadily improving," West said. "We have to keep our focus and start the playoffs strong."
Kevin Durant scored 38 for the Thunder, but he was just 2-of-11 from beyond the arc. Russell Westbrook added 21 points, nine boards and seven assists for Oklahoma City, which had a three-game winning streak broken.
The Thunder will play at New Orleans Monday and host Detroit Wednesday to close the regular season. OKC is two games clear of the Los Angeles Clippers for the No. 2 seed, but LA holds the tiebreaker if it wins out and the Thunder lose both games.
George's 3-ball with 2:09 left provided the hosts with a 92-89 lead, less than a minute before Westbrook tied the score with a left-wing 3-pointer.
Stephenson nailed a huge pull-up trey over Durant with 34.2 seconds left for a 97-91 difference and then waved his arms to pump up the sellout crowd.
George Hill hit 1-of-2 from the charity stripe for a 98-91 lead, but 3- pointers from Serge Ibaka and a quick one from Durant, sandwiched around a free throw from West, had the visitors within two with 9.5 ticks showing.
West, though, made two from the line and Durant had a late miss from beyond the arc to seal the outcome.
"We gave up too many points," Thunder head coach Scott Brooks said.
Durant scored 12 points in the opening quarter, but the remainder of his teammates combined to shoot 2-for-12 from the field in the first 12 minutes. Westbrook had seven points in the period, but the Thunder didn't get much offensive support and trailed 22-21 going to the second.
Indiana scored eight in a row during one stretch of the first quarter to gain a 15-9 edge, but later trailed by three following Durant's alley-oop jam for a 19-16 OKC edge. C.J. Watson, who scored 20 in the game, then hit two straight 3-pointers.
The Pacers led by as many as eight in the second and held a 47-45 edge at the break. George scored 10 in the third to help Indiana to a 74-66 lead moving to the fourth. The Pacers were up as many as 11 early in the final quarter before a 15-4 run by the Thunder tied the game.
The Thunder hammered the Pacers by 24 in Oklahoma City on Dec. 8 and had taken three straight in this series before Sunday's loss ... Caron Butler scored 13 and Ibaka 11 for the Thunder, who went 7-of-28 from 3-point range ... The Pacers held a 46-32 rebounding advantage, but OKC was kept in the game by 23 Indiana turnovers, which led to 21 Thunder points ... OKC guard Reggie Jackson went down with a neck injury moving through a screen set by Ian Mahinmi to get to Watson.
Apr 13 3:39 PM
- OKLAHOMA CITY: 66
End of 3rd
Apr 13 2:53 PM
- OKLAHOMA CITY: 45
Apr 13 2:07 PM
- OKLAHOMA CITY: 21
End of 1st
Apr 13 1:32 PM
- OKLAHOMA CITY: 0
1st Quarter - 11:35
Apr 13 1:04 PM
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