Strong Bench Play Pushes Indiana Pacers Past Oklahoma City Thunder
After what was made out to be a big loss to the Miami Heat Friday night, the Indiana Pacers followed up with an impressive victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder Sunday afternoon. David West (21 points, 6 rebounds) and Lance Stephenson (17 points, 10 rebounds, 11 assists) were huge for Indiana, but the bench was the real difference maker to close out the Pacers’ regular season at home.
C.J. Watson — who just returned last Wednesday after a lengthy absence — was very productive off the bench, finishing with a season-high 20 points on 6-10 shooting. Ian Mahinmi (11 points on 4-4 shooting, 5 boards) and Luis Scola (10 points on 5-7 shooting) were also huge for the Pacers.
Indiana played a pretty good game, and that’s what you have to do to beat Oklahoma City, but a reoccurring concern in turnovers popped up once again. They may have gotten away with 21 Sunday, but they won’t be able to give away free points in the playoffs like they have throughout the regular season.
Another concern for the Pacers was Roy Hibbert as he continued to struggle and had zero points on 0-9 shooting. He did bring down 6 rebounds, which is pathetically an improvement from the past two months. Frank Vogel may want to seriously consider making some moves in the starting lineup involving Hibbert, and although it may shock some people, it seems necessary at this point.
After a Heat loss Saturday night and this win for the Pacers, Indiana has now regained control of the East’s No. 1 seed once again, and can keep it for good if they beat the Orlando Magic Wednesday. If they lose, they can still hold the spot with a Heat loss.
As crazy as this season has been, it’s only bound to get even crazier in the closing days of the regular season and in the playoffs ahead. The show goes on, and missing out on it would be a mistake.