Oklahoma City Thunder

Oklahoma City Thunder blow 19-point lead vs. Indiana Pacers – who is their go-to guy down the stretch?

Paul George, Russell Westbrook [NBA Getty Images]

With 7:18 to go in the third quarter, Russell Westbrook found Paul George on an and-one alley-oop dunk to give the Oklahoma City Thunder a 19-point lead, their largest of the game.

The Indiana Pacers hadn't seen a lead since 11-10 in the first quarter and looked all but done in this one until they made their run.

Fast forward to 26 seconds remaining, the Pacers and Thunder tied at 106. Indiana got the ball in the hands of Bogdan Bogdanovic, who missed the game-winning shot attempt, but Wesley Matthews was there for the putback to give the Pacers the lead.

The Thunder took a timeout with 1.8 seconds on the clock, giving Billy Donovan a chance to draw up a game-tying or game-winning shot.

Tonight it fell into the hands of Russell Westbrook, who missed the game-winning 3-point attempt as the Thunder fell 108-106.

The shot going to Westbrook came as a bit of a surprise given Paul George had 36 points on the night. Granted, he had back-to-back costly turnovers down the stretch, but he had the hot hand and did not get the final shot.

So that leaves us questioning - who is the go-to guy down the stretch in OKC?

Well... the numbers would tell you that Westbrook is still the go-to guy. But should he be? See for yourself.

Below is a table of the Thunder's field goal attempts this season in games within five points in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime.

Thunder's FGA in games within five points with 2:00 or less in the game
Player FGM FGA FG% 3PM 3PA 3P%
Russell Westbrook 3 19 .158 0 7 .000
Paul George 6 10 .600 4 6 .667
Steven Adams 4 5 .800 0 0 .000
Dennis Schroder 2 4 .500 1 2 .500
Terrence Ferguson 2 3 .667 1 1 1.000
Alex Abrines 1 1 1.000 0 0 .000
Jerami Grant 1 1 1.000 0 0 .000

The table shows that Westbrook has taken almost double the number of shots George has down the stretch in close games. It also shows the George is clearly the more efficient player with the game on the line.

You would think that would mean more shot attempts would go to George, the All-Star forward who is in the midst of an MVP-calibre season, but the numbers tell a different story.

It would be reasonable if whoever has the hot hand gets the chance to hit the big shot, but thus far OKC has been ride or die with Westbrook.

This is surely something to follow over the final weeks of the season as the Thunder begin to shape up for a playoff push. As a team that many believe is poised to make some noise in the West, they'll find themselves in plenty of situations where they will have to decifer who takes the shot with the game on the line.

With tonight's loss the Thunder fall to 42-27, placing them in fifth place in the conference.

As for the winning Pacers, this comeback comes up huge to give them sole possession of the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference for the time-being.

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