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Wesley Matthews has game-winning tip as Pacers rally to beat Thunder (VIDEO)

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Wesley Matthews tipped in a basket with 1.8 seconds left and the Indiana Pacers rallied from an 18-point deficit to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 108-106 on Thursday night.

Domantas Sabonis scored 26 points against his former team, and the Pacers won their second straight by erasing the Thunder’s lead in the final 15 minutes. Indiana’s magic number for clinching a playoff spot is one.

Paul George led the Thunder with 36 points in his second trip back to Indianapolis since a blockbuster trade in July 2017. Russell Westbrook added 19 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists but missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

George and the Thunder were in control most of the game.

Indiana crept back into the contest by closing the third quarter on a 16-5 run that included a 46-foot, buzzer-beating heave from Cory Joseph. They made it 88-83 when Sabonis hit the opening basket in the fourth.

After Oklahoma City appeared to steady itself with an 8-2 spurt, the Pacers charged back. They tied it on two free throws from Sabonis and took their first lead since the opening minutes when Myles Turner‘s dunk made it 102-101 with 2:50 to go.

After Bojan Bogdanovic made it 104-101, George tied it with his sixth 3-pointer and broke the tie with two free throws.

Sabonis tied it back up with another layup with 57 seconds left. George turned the ball over twice and slipped while on defense during Indiana’s final possession, leaving Matthews the space to get free for the winning putback.

Matthews had 16 points and seven rebounds.

TIP-INS

Thunder: Westbrook has 27 triple-doubles this season and 131 in his career. … Steven Adams had 17 points and eight rebounds. … Oklahoma City went 3-3 during a stretch in which they played five road games. … The Thunder fell to 6-5 on the second night of back-to-backs this season.

Pacers: Darren Collison had 17 points, six rebounds and seven assists. … The Pacers committed 16 turnovers. … Bogdanovic scored 23 points and extended his streak of consecutive games in double figures to 24 and his career best single-season total of 20-point games to 28. … Tyreke Evans missed his second straight game for personal reasons. Coach Nate McMillan said he expects Evans to travel with the team later this week.

UP NEXT

Thunder: Hosts the Western Conference-leading Warriors on Saturday.

Pacers: Begin a crucial four-game road trip at Denver on Saturday.

More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Paul George fined $25,000 after saying, “It’s just bad officiating”

Associated Press
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Paul George knew he would be fined the second these words left his mouth.

“I’m sorry, just bad officiating. We don’t get a fair whistle. We haven’t gotten a fair whistle all year. … Somebody’s got to look into this. It’s getting out of hand, where we somehow just walk teams to the line. And there’s nobody that gets more contact. If I don’t speak for myself, I speak for Russ. There’s nobody that gets more contact than Russ going to the basket. And it’s just crazy.

“I don’t understand it. It’s a piece of s*** being on that floor. We giving everything we got. We’re playing hard. We’re getting grabbed, we’re getting scratched, clawed, held, shoved. And there’s nothing for it. The officials just get to walk out, and there’s nothing that penalizes them for not officiating the game the right way.”

George was frustrated after a Thunder loss to the Clippers where he, Russell Westbrook, and Steven Adams all fouled out while the Clippers shot 20 more free throws than Oklahoma City. This was George’s sixth foul, did he deserve it?

Whatever George thinks, he knows this is a fine and the league handed down the standard $25,000 one on Saturday.

We could get into how every player and coach thinks “officiating the game the right way” would lead to them getting a lot more calls, because obviously they get hacked every time they drive the lane while their bigs rarely foul opposition guys on the attack. Just know that the Clippers lead the NBA in free throw attempts per game — they do play a physical, downhill style of play that draws a lot of fouls — while the Thunder commit the fourth most fouls in the league. This was not unpredictable.

Expect more of this. With the playoffs coming and games carrying more pressure, every call will be scrutinized and plenty of coaches and players will be complaining. And racking up fines.

 

 

Last 2 Minute report finds five incorrect calls in final minute of Thunder/Trail Blazers

Associated Press
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We knew it looked ugly, but damn.

The NBA released its Last 2 Minute Report reviewing the referees calls from the final two minutes of the Thunder’s overtime win against the Trail Blazers Thursday night — a game with serious playoff implications — and it found five officiating errors in the final minute of play. The NBA has worked hard to be more transparent, and not only is that a good thing but it has shown the refs get stuff right far more than wrong, but this game was a tough one.

Calls were missed on both sides, so Portland fans spare us from “the refs cost us the game” stuff. It’s never just one thing. You want to win? Don’t give up 70 points in the paint.

Here are the five missed calls:

0:57: Paul George has the ball legally stripped from him, but Jusuf Nurkic has already committed to the air to block the shot when George regains possession. Nurkic fouled George with his body but there was no call. George passed to Steven Adams for a dunk.

0:26: Paul George had taken a three that missed, and in the battle for a rebound Damian Lillard put a forearm in the back of Russell Westbrook and pushed him out of the play. There was no call but should have been one on Lillard. OKC’s Jerami Grant got the offensive rebound and the Thunder set up for another play.

0:16.8: The one Blazers fans were livid about — Paul George should have been called for an offensive foul for his elbow to the face of Jusuf Nurkic. (Was it a flagrant foul? Former official Monty McCutchen, the NBA’s Director of Referee Development, said on ESPN’s The Jump that it could be considered for one but he didn’t think it deserved that harsh a call.)

0:7.7: Damian Lillard goes into the back court to collect an inbounds pass then attacks downhill and there are two missed calls on the play.

Adams should have been called for a foul for contacting the arm of Lillard on the shot.

Nurkic should have been called for offensive goaltending for contacting the rim while the ball was on it.

0:4.5: Double technicals to Paul George and Jusuf Nurkic after they get into it a little after a foul on Nurkic. This is deemed a correct call — and it is. Nurkic went with the mini-headbutt, that’s a tech every time. It was Nurkic’s second technical and he was ejected. Nobody should argue the second technical, whether he deserved the first one is the more interesting question (and not part of the public league review because it was in the first half).

Sixers update: Joel Embiid out Thursday vs. Thunder; Boban MRI comes back negative

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The Sixers are going to be without either of their main big men for Thursday night’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, but the news could be worse.

Joel Embiid has sat out the first three games since the All-Star break to rest a sore knee, and he was always going to be re-evaluated in one week. It also was always a smart bet he would be out longer, which is what will happen. Coach Brett Brown broke the news, with an update coming before a big weekend showdown with the Warriors.

It’s still too early to really worry for Sixers fans (outside of the level of concern that should always accompany the words “Embiid” and “injury”) but if he sits out the nationally televised game on Saturday, that’s a bigger red flag. Even if resting Embiid now is the smart play.

On the bright side, Boban Marjanovic‘s MRI came back negative from the knee injury he suffered in the final minutes of the Sixers win over the Pelicans on Monday.

He will be out for a week or so with a bone bruise and mild sprain of his knee. That could have been much worse.

Expect a lot of Jonah Bolden (who started Monday) and Amir Johnson for Philly. The challenge here is who the Sixers are facing. Oklahoma City is one of the better teams in the league and has a physical presence in the paint in Steven Adams who they could use Embiid to match up with. After that comes the Warriors and DeMarcus Cousins, who has struggled some of late but is still a force of nature.

Watch Paul George drain game-winning floater in 2OT, lift Thunder past Jazz

Associated Press
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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Paul George floated in a basket with less than a second remaining in double-overtime, capping a 45-point night with the winning shot in the Oklahoma City Thunder’s 148-147 victory over the Utah Jazz on Friday.

George dribbled out the final seconds before splitting the Joe Ingles, Ricky Rubio double team then hitting a rainbow floater over Rudy Gobert 0.8 seconds left that gave the Thunder the win.

Kyle Korver got off a desperate 3 for Utah, but it went long as the buzzer sounded.

Russell Westbrook added 43 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists, helping Oklahoma City overcome 38 points from Donovan Mitchell. Westbrook fouled out with 1:09 left in the first overtime, ending his NBA streak of 11 consecutive games with a triple-double.

The game went to overtime after the Thunder’s Jerami Grant completed a tying three-point play, then blocked Mitchells shot at the other end. Grant had 18 points.

In the first overtime, Abdel Nader hit a 3-pointer to give the Thunder a 139-137 lead in the final minute after Westbrook and Terrance Ferguson had fouled out. Utah’s Rudy Gobert tipped in the tying basket with 33.7 seconds left, and George and Mitchell eached missed jumpers in the closing seconds.

Gobert hit two free throws with 1:10 left in the second overtime for a 147-146 lead, but Utah went cold from there. Mitchell’s driving shot off the glass missed the rim, and Joe Ingles missed on a long 3-point try as the shot clock expired with 13.2 seconds left.

Steven Adams played a game-high 47 minutes for Oklahoma City, returning from a pre-All-Star break ankle injury to score 16 points and grab 10 rebounds to go along with five steals.

Derek Favors hit his first 10 shots, finishing with 24 points and 11 rebounds for Utah. Gobert had 26 points and 16 rebounds for the Jazz.

The teams were physical throughout. Westbrook got a flagrant foul for crashing into Gobert while defending a layup, and there was a fracas late in the first half after Jae Crowder fouled the Thunder’s Dennis Schroder.