The Oklahoma City Thunder got a career-high 54 points from point guard Russell Westbrook but lost, 116-104, to the Indiana Pacers on Sunday. Swingman C.J. Miles scored 30 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for Indiana.
Russell Wesbrook's 54 points were not enough to beat the Indiana Pacers on Sunday night.
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The Pacers (37-43) beat the Thunder, 116-104, behind C.J. Miles' 30 points and 10 rebounds for their fifth straight win to place them in a tie with the Brooklyn Nets for the eighth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. However, Brooklyn owns the tie-breaker, per Pacers.com's Wheat Hotchkiss.
Aside from his career-high point production, Wesbrook also had nine rebounds and eight assists for Oklahoma City. The Thunder (43-37) find themselves tied for eighth in the Western Conference after the New Orleans Pelicans lost to the Houston Rockets. Hotchkiss points out New Orleans owns the tie breaker.
Westbrook got off to a hot start, scoring 22 points on 9-of-14 shooting in the first quarter. Indiana managed to offset this by shooting 54.8 percent during the first half to lead by five at the break, per Pacers.com.
The Pacers led for most of the second half until Westbrook scored seven consecutive points punctuated by a breakaway dunk to knot the count at 88 apiece with 7:54 left on the game clock, per Hotchkiss.
However, Indiana quickly regained momentum after it scored 12 straight points of its own. Shooting guard Rodney Stuckey made a three-pointer while point guard George Hill converted on a three-point play for the Pacers during that spurt, Hotchkiss notes.
It was also during that stretch when the officials gave Westrbrook his 16th technical foul of the season. Because of this, he is automatically suspended for the Thunder's home game against the Portland Trail Blazers on April 13, per Pacers.com.
An April 12 Oklahoman update (via NewsOK.com) states referee Ed Malloy whistled Westbrook for a technical foul after he collided with Pacers power forward Luis Scola at the top of the key with the Thunder trailing by five points with 5:56 to play.
Oklahoma City head coach Scott Brooks told The Oklahoman on Sunday that Westbrook "was aware" he already had 15 technical fouls on the season. He also believed the NBA will rescind Malloy's call.
"I'm pretty confident that one will be rescinded," Brooks told The Oklahoman. "That's not my decision, but I'm pretty confident about it."
Nonetheless, Westbrook wasn't done.
According to Pacers.com, he scored the Thunder's next nine points to trim the deficit to three at 102-99 with 3:12 left in the game. The Pacers symied the Thunder's rally after Hill made a slick behind-the-back pass to center Roy Hibbert for the dunk. Indiana's point guard then scored two free throws for more breathing room.
Westbook answered with a three-pointer of his own before Hill made a floater and Miles buried a triple from the right corner--his sixth of the evening--to put the game away for the Pacers, per Hotchkiss.
Comebacking Indiana franchise player Paul George scored eight points on 3-of-9 shooting. Hill chipped in with 19 points and seven assists while Hibbert scored 17 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, per the Pacers.com update.
Pacers power forward David West marveled at Westbrook's monster game, per Hotchkiss:
"Westbrook is one of the unbelievable talents in this league. So we knew it was going to be a tall task. He got going early but I don't think we ever backed down. We know he's a great player and is going to get his, I thought we just did a good job of limiting the rest of those guys."
The Pacers.com update reveals Westbrook shot 21-of-43 from the field and 5-of-15 from three-point distance. Teammates Dion Waiters and Enes Kanter added 16 points and 13 points, respectively.
One statistical category which did the Thunder in was their free-throw shooting: They shot a miserable 11-of-28 from the charity stripe, per Nick Gallo of the Thunder's official website.
"We picked a bad time to have a bad free-throw night," Brooks told Gallo in the game's aftermath. "Those are the breaks. You have to stay together and come back out the next night."
For his part, Westbrook, an MVP and scoring title candidate, gave credit to the Pacers, per Gallo:
"We made some good runs at them and were able to cut it down, but we were never able to get over the hump. They made some tough shots.
"I just tried to stay in attack mode. I was making shots early and I just wanted to stay attacking as much as I could."
Westbrook also told The Oklahoman (via NewsOK.com) he is not concerned about his critics' poking fun at his shot selection:
"I don't really give a damn what nobody think to tell you the truth. I really don't care. Every night I go out and compete harder than anyone else in this league. I'm proud of (that) and my teammates don't have a problem with it. I'm good with that."
Westbrook is tied with the Houston Rockets' James Harden for the highest points-per-game average (27.5) in the NBA through April 13, per ESPN stats.
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