Bricktown Beat

Thunder exenterated by Pacers 95-61

With Tre Mann (personal) and Josh Giddey (ankle) out for their second and third consecutive games respectively, the Oklahoma City Thunder failed to make their mark — slipping to the Indiana Pacers 95-61. For Oklahoma City, this marks their third-consecutive loss in Las Vegas and locks in a sub-five-hundred record, now sitting at 1-3. For the Pacers, their blowout win sourced themselves a 2-2 record across in-season play, and a lot to be proud about heading into their finale.

Indiana started the night hot with an Isaiah Jackson jam and putback plus a Chris Duarte, but an Aaron Wiggins 27-footer cut coupled with a Chalie Brown Jr. tip-in held the Pacers up just one. Neither side shot particularly well to start this game, but three Thunder turnovers in the first five minutes gave Indiana the driver’s seat. Once the Thunder’s ball-handling woes cleared up, their shot failed to garner any steam going 3-of-15 (1-of-7 3pt) in the first seven minutes while the Pacers clocked an early 15-9 lead at the two-minute warning. Oklahoma City escaped their sticky start with a Rob Edwards dunk and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl pick-and-pop triple, and by the horn — the Thunder were down just 15-14. The first quarter’s slugfest   

The Thunder’s “bench mob” turned the accelerator on for the second quarter’s onset staking their first lead off a Josh Hall double-clutch layup and a pair of Rob Edwards free throws to reclaim the lead a play later. Oklahoma City clamped down their two-point lead for a batch of possessions but two Charlie Brown Jr. turnovers, one of which as a botched inbound, pillaged the way for Indiana to stake a 7-0 run. Oklahoma City ironed out five consecutive points as return fire to tie the game at 26, but a Pacers 8-2 hot-streak mounted them back on top. Jalen Lecque sourced two immediate Thunder buckets a minute into his Summer League debut, but Pacers interior attacks continued to wall them off. Indiana kept the iron hot ticking to it’s fullest with a 7-0 closing run. After a Chris Duarte pull-up triple, the Pacers claimed their first double-digit lead, and held onto it for a 43-32 halftime lead. 

Oklahoma City lacked any burst in the first half shooting a paltry 12-of-34 (35.3%) overall, and 2-of-17 (11.1%) from distance. The Thunder looked towards a flurry of players for buckets, both Rob Edwards and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl led in points — they had six apiece. For the Pacers, their offense had been played through Chris Duarte as the 24-year-old rookie acted as a one-man wrecking ball reaching 14 points (5-of-11 FG.)

The second half mirrored the first’s opening with an Isaiah Jackson flush then the tables looked to have turned. Jaylen Hoard and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl united to post a 13-9 run to cut the game to single digits. In this span, Hoard spread his wings — picking up 10 points off of a turnaround, inside shot, and two top-of-the-key triples. Following an Indiana timeout, Oklahoma City was nowhere to be found squandering a quick comeback with a Pacers 13-5 closing run to put them on the home stretch up 67-50.

Indiana cut a 20-point advantage on the fourth quarter’s onset, two minutes in — Indiana’s lead shot up to 25. The garbage time minutes gave Kameron Woods valuable evaluation time, including the debut of Emmitt Williams, but Indiana’s lead stood throughout. Indiana kept their best for last, upping Oklahoma City by 34 points in the final minute, settling on a 95-61 victory.

Oklahoma City’s demise came from an identity crisis offensively. Throughout the night, the Thunder were in search of someone to take the role of scoring duties, but outside of Jaylen Hoard’s 10-point outburst — no one stepped up to the torch. Overall, the Thunder narrowly scathed the 30-percent mark from the floor going 21-of-68 (30.9 %). From the perimeter, their success ran barren shooting a paltry 4-of-30 (13.3%) on the evening. 

Indiana’s joyride of a game read a far happier story than Oklahoma City, raining down 38-of-82 (46.3%) shots in addition to gathering themselves from three en route to a 9-of-24 (37.5%) clip. Unlike the Thunder, the Pacers never set into panic mode as Chris Duarte sent a message with 19 points (7-of-15 FG) while overseas journeyman Keifer Sykes and rookie Isaiah Jackson filled in the gashes with 14 and 12 points respectively.

Jaylen Hoard made the most of his illustrious third quarter finishing the game with a team-high 16 points (7-of-9 FG) and 5 rebounds. Par to the course, Hoard excelled in penetrating to the basket Thursday, but his real money-maker rested in his three. Hoard’s 2-of-2 extravaganza from distance may look insignificant on paper, but his two conversations marked his best outside showing in well over a year. Prior to joining the Thunder on a two-way deal, Jaylen Hoard had nagging issues playing from downtown. Hoard shot a mere 19.2 percent from deep with the Blue, accumulating 1.7 tries a night. Hoard’s duo of triples broke his standard, and thus, Indiana’s defense had been shaken up until a timeout cut his momentum.

Jeremiah Robinson-Earl posted his first double-double in Summer League play, ending his 26-minute burst with 13 points (4-of-8 FG) and 10 rebounds. Robinson-Earl stuck a one-eighty in comparison to his previous three games utilizing high ball screens to operate as a roller as opposed to his typical tendency to pop outside. As a result of the sudden movement, Robinson-Earl freed himself for interior layups, but he also invited contact around the basket to accrue a game-high six free throws, canning four. In addition to his newly-found slashing ability, Robinson-Earl kept his nose around the basket to snag 8 offensive rebounds.

Aaron Wiggins claimed the last ticket as a double-digit scorer with 10 points, but the second-rounder did stumble into some issues — shooting 4-of-10 from the floor. Wiggins had to improvise across his 25 minutes as the former Terrapin struggled from his three-point roots fielding just 1-of-5 tries. As an aggressor inside, Wiggins operated as one of Oklahoma City’s few stable threats and even hauled down 5 rebounds.

Starters Theo Maledon and Charlie Brown Jr. faltered in their starting roles, struggling to amass any traction. Maledon kept his tag as the roster’s playmaking aficionado dishing out 6 assists, but the 20-year-old went ran dry from the field to the tune of an 0-of-7 performance going 0-4 on threes. In regards to Brown Jr. his early strike sounded the only time he rang the point column, finishing with 2 points on 1-of-6 shooting. Brown Jr. played in survival mode for the better part of the game opting to fire out baseline turnaround immediately upon receiving the ball.

After leading the charge on Friday, Rob Edwards was a no-show for the Thunder’s back-to-back closer. In his 19 minutes, Edwards logged 6 points while going 1-of-9 from the field (0-of-5 3pt), needing to reach toward the charity stripe for the majority of his points. Edwards’ down performance spells close comparison to his play with the Oklahoma City Blue as the 6-foot-5 guard often hit a dry spell in following up an eye-popping performance.

The Oklahoma City Thunder (1-3) will get a day of rest before concluding their Summer League campaign against the San Antonio Spurs (1-3.) The game is slated to begin at 4 pm CST on NBATV.

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