NBA: Pacers roll Thunder, Celtics march on

AFP , Wednesday 13 Mar 2024

Myles Turner scored 24 points as the Indiana Pacers snapped the Oklahoma City Thunder's three-game winning streak with a 121-111 victory on the road Tuesday.

Myles Turner
Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner (33) prepares to shoot next to Oklahoma City Thunder forward Gordon Hayward, right, during the second half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, March 12, 2024, in Oklahoma City. Photo: AP


Turner led a balanced offensive effort for Indiana that saw six players post double-digit points tallies against the Western Conference-leading Thunder.

The Pacers shrugged off a fiercely partisan Oklahoma City crowd to take control early on, opening up a 16-point lead near the end of the first half.

Although the Thunder rallied with a 41-point third quarter to take a fleeting one-point lead, Indiana regrouped to pull away again and close out victory.

Turner was backed with 18 points and nine assists from Tyrese Haliburton while Pascal Siakam added 18 points and 11 rebounds for the visitors.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led the Thunder scorers with 30 points, 10 rebounds and five assists.

"We got off to a great start and we were able to lock in. It was a team effort," said Turner, adding that Indiana had reveled in the intimidating atmosphere at Oklahoma City's 18,000-seat Paycom Center.

"It's one of the loudest places to play historically," Turner said. "It's a hostile environment, a playoff-like atmosphere. But we enjoy that."

Indiana improved to 37-29 to move into sixth place in the Eastern Conference.

Oklahoma City's defeat leaves them level on 45-20 with the Denver Nuggets at the top of the Western Conference.

Celtics sink Jazz

The Eastern Conference-leading Boston Celtics shrugged off the absence of Kristaps Porzingis, Jaylen Brown and Al Horford to wrap up their gruelling West Coast road trip with an emphatic 123-107 win over the Utah Jazz.

Jayson Tatum was once again the focal point of the Celtics offense, finishing with 38 points from 13-of-25 shooting as Boston swept to their 51st win of the season.

Utah led briefly early in the first quarter but were ultimately dominated by the short-handed Boston line-up.

Derrick White backed Tatum with 24 points while four other Boston players finished in double figures.

Keyonte George was the pick of the Utah scorers with 26 points.

Boston coach Joe Mazzulla praised his understrength team's ability to deliver.

"The fact that the last couple of games everybody is stepping up -- it's just what we're trying to build. A culture, an environment in the locker room where it doesn't matter who's in, everybody is ready to play at any time," Mazzulla said.

Milwaukee, second place in the East, lost ground on Boston after suffering a 129-94 pasting by the Sacramento Kings on the road.

Sacramento star De'Aaron Fox finished with 29 points while Malik Monk chipped in with 29 off the bench as Milwaukee's porous defense was exposed once more.

The Minnesota Timberwolves drew level with Oklahoma City and Denver on 45 wins after digging out a 118-100 triumph over the Los Angeles Clippers.

The Clippers took a commanding 22-point lead midway through the second quarter but were unable to respond after Minnesota rallied after half-time, outscoring Los Angeles 63-37 in the final two quarters.

In New York, the Philadelphia 76ers' problems continued with a heavy 106-79 defeat to the Knicks.

The Sixers, who have lost six of their last 10 games, were well beaten by a Knicks team who have moved up to fourth in the Eastern Conference.

Josh Hart and Jalen Brunson led the Knicks scoring with 20 points apiece in a wire-to-wire victory that saw New York open up a 33-point lead at one stage.

The Sixers' defeat prompted a scathing critique from head coach Nick Nurse, who accused his team of lacking physicality.

"It's a matter of us deciding we're gonna be tough enough to go out there and compete," Nurse said.

"What I told them after the game is that it starts with competing and physicality, and execution -- and we did not start the game with any of those three things."

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