In a matchup on Wednesday evening between the Thunder and Pacers, the game was within single-digits into the final seconds of the game. When it was all said and done, Indiana came out on top, sending Oklahoma City home with yet another loss, marking 12 in a row.
An up-and-down game all night, the Thunder kept it within striking distance late in the fourth quarter. Down seven with around 30 seconds left in the game, a Darius Bazley layup followed by a steal and 3-pointer from Theo Maledon cut the Indiana lead to two points over a span of eight seconds.
Although the Pacers ended up winning by a total of six points, the Thunder showed effort and fight down to the final buzzer, which is what Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault has put an emphasis on all season. To him, playing a full 48 minute game instills good habits into a team and is important for building a winning culture.
“I’m happy with how we hung in there. We gave ourselves a chance," said Daigneault after the game. "It’s hard to win these games. We just need to get better while playing with the competitive spirit we’ve been playing with. It’s just going to take a little bit more to get over the hump.”
Svi Mykhailiuk had an excellent night for Oklahoma City, finishing with 20 points, nine rebounds and four assists. Off the bench, Kenrich Williams did a little bit of everything, producing 15 points, seven rebounds, two steals and a block. Center Moses Brown notched yet another double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds, helping the Thunder dominate the game on the glass, pulling down nine more than the Pacers.
The player of the night for Oklahoma City was Darius Bazley, who finished with 26 points (9-for-25 from the floor) and nine rebounds.
Bazley is finally turning the corner, becoming the player the Thunder have been anticipating for quite some time. After missing nearly a month with a fractured scapula, he's exploded over his past seven games. During this span, he's averaged 19.0 points and 7.0 rebounds per game, including back-to-back games with 26 points.
The former late first-round pick has emerged as a real franchise cornerstone during his hot streak. Alongside Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Lu Dort, Bazley looks to be a bright spot amidst this extended losing streak. Additionally, he has shown to have improved on defense, being assigned with guarding Russell Westbrook and Caris LeVert over the past two games.
“Tonight he wasn’t overly efficient, but the aggressiveness is definitely there," said Daigneault. "He’s doing some really, really good things. He’s progressing.”
The Thunder will now head home after this four-game road trip to take on the Washington Wizards. These teams matched up just two days ago, with Washington coming out on top by a final score of 119-107. Oklahoma City's longest losing streak in franchise history is 14 games, so if they can't pull out a win in the next three games, they will exceed that number set in 2008.