With the score tied 52-52 to start the third quarter, the Pacers started the 2nd half with a 17-2 run to take a 69-54 lead with 7:25 left in the third quarter. Indiana outscoring the Kings, 28-17 in the third and took an 11 pt advantage of 80-69 into the fourth quarter. The Kings fought back, closing to within six points, 99-93, with 2:21 remaining in the fourth. However, the Pacers went on a 6-0 run to kill any chance of a Kings comeback.
Tyreke and Luther Head started in the backcourt and Dalembert, Greene, and Thompson started in the front court. Coming off the bench, Beno Udrih scored a team-high 24 points and DeMarcus Cousins scored 20 points; it was the game after DeMarcus was ejected from practice. Samuel Dalembert pulled down a game-high 12 rebounds before having to sit with 5:06 left in the third quarter due to right patellar tendinitis. Tyreke Evans put up an impressive 16 points, nine assists and seven rebounds but had just five points and one assist in the 2nd half. It was the 2nd game in a row that Tyreke’s performance dropped off in the 2nd half, as his plantar fasciitis seemed to worsen after the half time break.
The Kings had no answer for Danny Granger who scored a game-high 37 points. Granger was 12-for-19 on the night and hit 10-for-11 from the free-throw line. He added seven rebounds, two assists and two steals. Darren Collison scored 17 points and Roy Hibbert recorded 16 points and a team-high nine rebounds for the Pacers. 6-10 PF Solomon Jones scored 12 points off the bench.
But, it was the Kings inability to play defense without fouling that cost them the game. The Kings lost the game by 9pts but were outscored at the FT Line by 14 pts. The Kings committed 29 fouls sending the Pacers to the FT line 34 times where they made 29. Granger made 10 of 11, Collison made 7 of 8 and McRoberts made 5-6 for 22 of 25 or 88%, and 7 pts more than the entire Kings team scored at the charity stripe.
The Pacers weren’t involved in any trades at the trade deadline. . The only roster changes this season, were their two 2010 draft picks Paul George -Drafted 10th and Lance Stephenson -Drafted 40th, and Darren Collison and James Posey. In August Indiana sent Troy Murphy to New Jersey as part of a four team deal. New Jersey sent Courtney Lee to Houston. Houston sent Trevor Ariza to New Orleans. And, New Orleans sent Darren Collison and James Posey to Indiana.
The Pacers (32-40) are in eighth place in the East, three games ahead of Charlotte (28-42) and Milwaukee (28-42). The Pacers did make a coaching change. Jim O'Brien was fired as head coach at the end of January and Frank Vogel was named interim head coach. Since the coaching change the Pacers are 15 and 13 after going 17-27 under O’Brien.
Indiana and Sacramento play at almost the identical pace, with Indiana about 1% better offensively and Sacramento about 3% worse defensively, and both teams have almost identical Assist Rates and Turnover Rate. The Kings are the better rebounders while the Pacers have the much better TS%. The Pacers have the 5th best FT% but are slightly below average in 3P%. They take the 8th highest number of 3pt shots but have the 15th lowest percentage from that range.
Indiana will start 6-9 Danny Granger, 6-9 Tyler Hansbrough and 7-2 Roy Hibbert in the frontcourt. With Mike Dunleavy out with a broken thumb, 6-8 rookie Paul George will start at SG and 6-0 Darren Collison will start at the Point. The big lineup is why I don’t think we’ll see Tyreke at the 3 in a three guard lineup.
Granger leads all scorers with 20.5 pts/ 5.4 rebs. Collison averages 13.4 pts / 5.1 asts. Hibbert is 3rd at 12.6 pts/ 7.6 rebs. Hansbrough is next at 10.8 pts/ 5.2 rebs. George averages 7.9 pts/ 3.8 rebs. This is the 2nd most winning lineup for the Pacers going 4-4. In contrast the Kings have had 29 different lineups, with none playing more than 8 games together. The lineup of Beno, Marcus, Garcia, DeMarcus and Sammy is 3-4, leading every other lineup in win percentage except 3 that are 1-0.
The main bench players are 6-6 SG Brandon Rush who averages 26.7 mpg, 6-10 PF Josh McRoberts who averages 22 mpg, Jeff Foster who averages 17 mpg, and Dahntay Jones and AJ Price who average around 14 mpg. James Posey who averages 17 mpg has only played in 2 games in February and 3 games in March. Rookie Lance Stephenson has played in only 10 games all season, but 9 games in March when he averaged 11 mpg.
As it was earlier in the season the Pacers puts up threes in bulk. They prefer the outside shot and take almost 50 shots per game from outside 10ft while taking around 33 inside. They have a very low ‘and-1’ rate and a very high percentage of shots being blocked. Hibbert is a fine young center but Granger is a bigger threat around the basket.
Tyreke is expected back but with limited minutes. Donte got some PT in the last game for defensive purposes and I believe PW was thinking ahead to having him defend Granger. I think the Kings should have the advantage on the boards, but the bigs are going to have to give help to whoever covers Granger or Collison, so the help defense is going to have to come quickly. Hold down the turnovers and limit the fouls, and I think the Kings have a chance.
I think that PW will limit Tyreke to the guard position where he should be the most comfortable. Although, I’m worried that the reintegration of Tyreke might even set the Kings back a little. Tyreke and Sammy were hurt in the last game and we gave the Pacers a good challenge. So, I’m hoping with a healthy Dalembert and Evans, and the addition of Marcus Thornton, the Kings can put the Pacers to the real test. Go Tyreke Evans.