Pacers overcome Westbrook’s triple double to edge Thunder

Los Angeles: Wesley Matthews scored the winning basket with two seconds remaining in the fourth quarter as the Indiana Pacers rallied in the second half to defeat the Oklahoma City Thunder 108-106 on Thursday.
Matthews put back the winner with two seconds left, capping a 16 point, seven rebound performance for the Pacers who were down by 18 points at one stage.
“Man, this team fights. That’s one of the big reasons why I chose to come here,” Matthews said.
“We fight, we compete. No lead is too much. We needed a win against a playoff team, and that’s what we’ve got to do going forward.”
Domantas Sabonis, who used to play for the Thunder, finished with 26 points as the Pacers stormed from behind in the final 15 minutes of the contest. Indiana’s magic number for booking a spot in the postseason is now one.
Paul George led the Thunder with 36 points in just his second game in Indianapolis since being traded in July 2017.
Russell Westbrook added 19 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists, but missed a three-pointer at the buzzer that would have won it.
Oklahoma City controlled the pace for most the game but the Pacers changed the script in the third quarter.
After Bojan Bogdanovic made it 104-101, George tied it with his sixth three-pointer and broke the tie with two free throws late in the fourth.
Sabonis tied it back up with another layup with 57 seconds left.
George turned the ball over twice and slipped while on defence during Indiana’s final possession, leaving Matthews the space to get free for the winning tip in.
Westbrook’s triple double performance — reaching double digits in three key statistical categories — came two days after he received a $25,000 fine after an expletive-laden outburst where he threatened to beat up a heckling Utah Jazz fan and his wife.
In Salt Lake City, Jazz owner Gail Miller spoke to the crowd on Thursday prior to their 120-100 win over Minnesota to address the kerfuffle between Westbrook and their fans. Utah permanently banned Shane Keisel from all arena events.
Miller, who has owned the team for 34 years, asked the crowd to behave, saying “We are not a racist community. No one wins when respect goes away.”
The 2017 league MVP later said he had been subjected to racist abuse by the fan.
“The young man and his wife in the stands told me to get down on my knees like you used to,” Westbrook said.
Keisel denied using a racist remark, saying he said, “sit down and ice your knees.”

Owner warns fans
Players from both teams applauded Miller’s speech. Donovan Mitchell scored 24 points, Jae Crowder had 18 for the Jazz in the win over the Timberwolves.
Elsewhere, Kyrie Irving scored a team-high 31 points during a fourth-quarter burst that allowed the Boston Celtics to beat the Sacramento Kings 126-120.
Irving hit a pair of jump shots in a 9-0 flurry that opened a 113-103 advantage with 4:33 remaining. The Kings got no closer than five after that.
Irving finished with his second career triple-double with 31 points 10 rebounds and a game-high 12 assists.
In Toronto, Kawhi Leonard scored 25 points and the Toronto Raptors easily defeated the lowly Los Angeles Lakers 111-98.
Normal Powell added 20, while Pascal Siakam had 16 and Marc Gasol scored 15 for the Raptors, who improved to 49-20 on the season.
Toronto was missing both Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka, who is serving a three game suspension for fighting.
LeBron James finished with 29 points for the Lakers, who fell to 31-37. Alex Caruso added a career-high 16 points for the Lakers, who have won just one game since February 27.
The Raptors were coming off a 126-101 loss to Cleveland and the Lakers beat Chicago 123-107 in their most recent game.
In Denver, Nikola Jokic hit a one-handed shot as the final buzzer sounded to lift the Denver Nuggets over the Dallas Mavericks 100-99. —AFP