With All-Star Domantas Sabonis returning from a six-game absence, the Indiana Pacers entered Saturday night wielding an extra step of momentum — couple that with removals of Lu Dort (hip), Aleksej Pokusevski (knee), and Ty Jerome (inactive), this game looked like a blowout. That was an understatement. Oklahoma City was annihilated by Indiana from all facets of the game as they fell in a historic 152-95 loss, their largest slip-up in franchise history. The Thunder’s eye-catching loss not only put a spotlight on Sam Presti’s “tank job” but it also garnered some solid results. As of now, the Thunder currently are tied with the Cleveland Cavaliers for fifth-best lottery odds, but a sneaky Orlando win Saturday means they are now just one game back from the fourth-best odds. The Pacers win put themselves back into the win column and kept their ninth seed in the East afloat as with a 30-33 record, they still have playoff aspirations.
Given Sabonis’ return, the Pacers gnawed the Thunder inside with an 8-0 opening run all from the interior — and it never stopped. Indiana started the night a perfect 6-of-6 from the floor as the Thunder were stuck in mud off a 1-of-11 opening. The surge pushed the Pacers up 16-4 on a whim. Oklahoma City stemmed a brief 11-4 run highlighted by a Darius Bazley posterizer, but it simply couldn’t stick. After Oklahoma City’s small-run the Indiana Pacers ran rampant from all three levels harvesting a lead as large as 19 while holding a 42-29 advantage heading into the second. Indiana’s 7-of-11 showing from the three torched Oklahoma City’s 2-of-11 sampling. Doug McDermott was handing out a Reggie Miller impersonation, dousing 17 points (5-of-7 FG) in the frame while running around screens for a 4-of-5 three-point clinic.
Indiana’s 68-percent shooting carried over into the second as they strummed out five-straight makes en route an 11-2 start, and a 55-31 lead. Oklahoma City’s lowly 3-of-11 start opened the door for another major push for the Pacers as by the midway point, they found themselves down 64-35 off of a 24-6 run. The Thunder’s misfortune bled the entire quarter as by the buzzer they were out 82-46, their largest halftime deficit of the year.
Oklahoma City’s final play represented their half in a nutshell, a Bazley misfired three followed by two unsuccessful putbacks. The point being, the Thunder could not find any rhythm — offense or defense. The Thunder hit a paltry 33-percent of shots while nailing just 2-of-18 (11.1%) tries from outside. On the other end, Indiana’s 82 points marked a season-high for the half while trailing just four points off of their franchise record set in 1982. The Pacers shot an unprecedented 70-percent from the floor off a 32-of-46 going while at the three-point level they shot 11-of-18 falling right in line at 61-percent. Domantas Sabonis was on pace for a career night racking up 22 points (9-of-11 FG), 11 rebounds, and 11 assists in 19 minutes while Doug McDermott reached 20 points (7-of-10 FG) — Oklahoma City’s main scorer was Moses Brown, he had eight points.
Matters only worsened leading into the second half as a minute through Oklahoma City was drained to likes of 40 points — and after seven minutes — they were out 52. The Pacers’ advantage stacked to 58 as they almost doubled the Thunder up 118-60, but after Nate Bjorkgren pulled the starters, they graciously settled on a 126-70 lead.
The only question riding into the fourth quarter was if Indiana could top their franchise record of 150 points — with 36.1 seconds — they did.
In the 57-point loss, Oklahoma City fell in their largest fashion in franchise history while also seeing a franchise-shattering 67-point hole at their worst. For Indiana’s camp, their win set a new franchise-high, beating out a 150-point showing from 1982 — Mark Daigneault wasn’t even born yet. With even more numbers backing the game, Oklahoma City’s 152 allowed points were the most even given up in a regulation game, while also setting the groundworks for the worst home loss in NBA history. On the bright side, the loss skimmed the largest loss in NBA history (68) and narrowly edged a 60-point loss, an occurrence only placed seven times.
“It’s embarrassing. I’m not gonna try to spin it,” said Mark Daigneault postgame. “It’s demoralizing.” “There were obviously many [issues]. That was a clean uppercut. They shot it very well, that certainly happened, 64-percent from three is an astronomical number over the course of the game… It wasn’t a great offensive night from us. It was a pretty ugly storm.”
Mark Daigneault was not kidding about the percentages, Indiana could not miss. The Pacers shot 57-of-87 (65.5%) on the night while nailing a season-high 21 triples on just 33 attempts (63.6%.) It was all rainbows and sunshine for Indiana as it didn’t matter if Nate Bjorkgren had Domantas Sabonis playing or Amida Brimah — the shots were going in.
Doug McDermott pillaged upon his 17-point first quarter, ending the night with 31 points on 11-of-14 shooting while going 6-of-8 from outside. Domantas Sabonis stuffed the stat-sheet with 26 points (10-of-13 FG), 19 rebounds, and 14 assists on 29 minutes while even hitting two triples of his own. Caris LeVert took charge with 25 points (9-of-15 FG) while also wheeling and-dealing with 6 assists and four hits on threes. Top-to-bottom Indiana’s big three ran down the ranks as three other teammates eclipsed double-digits, and Oshae Brissett hit a double-double with 16 points and 13 boards.
Somehow, Oklahoma City’s palette of 34.2-percent shooting, going 21.1-percent from distance, and hitting 47.8-percent of free throws were all not season worsts — but they ranked right up there. In the starting lineup, Darius Bazley shot just 4-0f-17 for 10 points, Theo Maledon went 2-of-14 for 8 tally marks, Isaiah Roby hit 1-of-8 tries, and in his first career start, and Charlie Brown Jr. shot 3-of-10 — that was the second-best margin by starters.
Moses Brown was the lone bright spot on the roster as he corralled 16 points (7-of-9 FG) and 7 rebounds by lurking right around the cylinder. His costar in Tony Bradley was right behind with 13 points and 8 rebounds of his own while Svi Mykhailiuk rallied in 13 points hitting half of the team’s threes (8.)
Gabriel Deck was resorted to NBA Street moves by the second half, dicing up behind-the-back, mid-air passes for style points — they needed 58 style points. Deck played the game out nicely going for 8 points (4-of-12 FG) and 10 rebounds on the night, and from what we can take from Mark Daigneault, he may get a raincheck.
“Well he’s [Deck is] probably wondering what the hell’s going on right now (laughs),” said Daigneault.
In Oklahoma City’s case, their season scheduling couldn’t have been more scripted than this. Looking to recover from their 57-point loss, the Thunder will take on a Goliath in the 45-18 Phoenix Suns — and even better, the game’s being played tomorrow.