Pacers Thunder Basketball

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Luguentz Dort (5) goes to the basket between Indiana Pacers forward Isaiah Jackson (22) and guard Trevelin Queen (8) in the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

OKLAHOMA CITY – Any concerns of the Oklahoma City Thunder letting recent praise inflate their egos were quickly diminished in their 126-106 win over the Indiana Pacers.

A little over three minutes into the game, the Thunder quickly created a 17-1 lead against the Pacers.

The Thunder continued to keep distance on the scoreboard against the Pacers with a 58-44 halftime lead.

A 42-point third quarter helped blow this game open for the Thunder as they entered the fourth quarter with a 100-73 lead.

It was another all-around effort for the Thunder as seven of the 11 players who played scored at least 10 points with nobody taking more than 17 shots. 

The Thunder were a scoring machine, as they shot 47-of-93 (50.5%) from the field and went 16-of-38 (42.1%) from outside. Of their 47 made shots, 41 were assisted – a franchise record.

This continues the recent trend of the Thunder being an offensive juggernaut. Since the start of 2023, the Thunder own the third-best offense in the league, scoring 121.9 points per 100 possessions.

The Thunder improves their record to 22-23 on the season, the closest they’ve been to .500 since being 6-7 after the first 13 games.

The Thunder have now won four consecutive games by at least 10 points and six of their last seven games overall. 

Here are three other thoughts from the Thunder’s 20-point win.

SGA & Giddey continue to improve

The catalyst to the Thunder’s recent success centers around their young backcourt.

With Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey both being ball-dominant guards with questionable outside shooting, it was always going to be an awkward transition for the two to fit.

But it feels like the duo is finally turning a corner.

Against the Pacers, both played excellently.

Gilgeous-Alexander finished with 23 points on 7-of-17 shooting, six assists and three rebounds. Giddey finished with 16 points on 8-of-12 shooting, 11 assists and six rebounds. 

In their last 10 games, the Gilgeous-Alexander-and-Giddey two-man lineup is a plus-11.3 net rating.

The rest of the starters

While Gilgeous-Alexander and Giddey received the loudest ovations, the other three Thunder starters weren’t half-bad themselves.

Lu Dort and Kenrich Williams both collected double-doubles. Dort finished with 22 points on 8-of-14 shooting and Williams finished with 12 points and a career-high 10 assists.

"When you're as selfless as (Kenrich Williams) is, he gets lost in the team and lost in the game," Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault said. "He's the ultimate compete-together player."

Jalen Williams continues to cement himself into the starting lineup and as a Rookie-of-the-Year candidate with 11 points on 4-of-10 shooting, six rebounds, six assists and four steals.

The core four of Gilgeous-Alexander, Giddey, Dort and Williams continues to build chemistry.

“I think the team is growing in confidence. The confidence is kind of a collective confidence,” Daigneault said. "It's not like an individual player just playing on a ridiculous streak or anything like that. It's the group is gaining confidence together.”

NBA standings update

The win pushes the Thunder’s record to 22-23, which keeps them in the Play-In Tournament range. 

The Thunder move up to the ninth seed and are tied with the eighth-seeded LA Clippers for win percentage (.489). 

In terms of moving up in the standings, the Thunder are 1.5 games back from the fifth-seeded Dallas Mavericks.

Up next: The Thunder go back on the road to play the Sacramento Kings on Friday, Jan. 20 at 9 p.m. CT.

Clemente Almanza is a sports reporter intern for The Transcript. You can reach him via email at calmanza@normantranscript.com or on Twitter @CAlmanza1007

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