(Sports Network) - It's unlikely the Oklahoma City Thunder and Indiana Pacers
will meet in the NBA Finals, but stranger things have occurred.
The two powerhouses collide Friday night in Indianapolis, where the Pacers go
for their sixth win in a row.
Indiana completed a perfect four-game road trip with Monday's 109-106 victory
over the Los Angeles Clippers as Roy Hibbert scored 15 of his 26 points in
the first quarter and grabbed 10 rebounds. Paul George added 23 points and 10
assists for the Pacers, who made all eight of their free throws in the final
32 seconds of play.
"I'm so proud of our team's performance," Hibbert said. "We knew they were
going to make a run but we weathered the storm. We took care of business
All five Pacers starters scored in double figures with David West adding 16
points in the triumph, Indiana's eighth in nine tries.
The Pacers are comfortably ahead of Chicago for a Central Division title,
sitting 6 1/2 games ahead of the Bulls, and are only one-half game behind the
New York Knicks for the East's second seed.
Indiana's magic number to clinch a division crown is two. The team is 29-8 as
the host and has won three straight and 24 of 29 at home.
Oklahoma City made up some ground in the Western Conference with Thursday's
100-88 win at San Antonio. The Thunder are now just one-half game behind the
Spurs for the West's No. 1 seed.
Russell Westbrook scored a game-high 27 points and Kevin Durant followed with
25 points, nine boards and six assists. Derek Fisher hit five 3-pointers and
chipped in 17 points off the bench for the Thunder, who have won two straight
and five of six games.
"He made plays and he made shots," Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said of
Fisher. "He knows how to play, he knows where to be. You don't have to make
every shot but you have to make plays."
Fisher is a playoff-tested veteran for the Thunder, who used a 20-3 run in the
first half to break the game open. They are 17-1 this season when holding
opposing teams under 90 points.
The Thunder sit 3 1/2 games ahead of the Denver Nuggets for Northwest Division
supremacy and are 22-15 away from the OKC this season.
Friday's matchup between Oklahoma City and Indiana pits one of the top
offensive teams against a stingy defense. The Thunder are even with Houston
for first in the NBA with 106.0 ppg, while the Pacers are second in opponents'
scoring at 89.9 ppg.
Durant leads the NBA with 28.3 ppg and scored 27 points in Oklahoma City's
104-93 home victory over the Pacers on Dec. 9. West hit 10-of-16 from the
field for a team-high 21 points in that one for Indiana, which has dropped
four of the previous six matchups in this series.
Oklahoma City has lost four of five trips to Indy.
The Sports Network