Pacers 97, Kings 92: Offensive problems overwhelm

US PRESSWIRE

While the Kings' defense on David West was highly problematic, Sacramento's inability to score was the biggest issue.

David West had a huge night for Indiana, giving the Pacers 31 points on 13-20 shooting and 11 rebounds. But that wasn't the biggest problem for the Sacramento Kings. Their own inability to put up points efficiently was.

DeMarcus Cousins was Sactown's leading scorer with 19, but he needed 22 shooting possessions (17 FGAs and five trips to the line) to get them. Thomas Robinson had good energy, but his seven points came on 10 shooting possessions. The rest of the team shot better than that, but still not great: only Francisco Garcia (5-7) shot better than 50 percent from the floor. Marcus Thornton and Jimmer Fredette, in particular, were good on offense ... but the Kings needed more, particularly from the top shot-taker, Cousins.

It's hard to blame Boogie for taking so many shots: with Tyreke Evans out and Thornton playing surprisingly unaggressively in the first half, Cousins ended up with the ball late in a lot of shot clocks. Still, there were other moments when he decided to go right at the much longer Roy Hibbert, and those ended in some awful attempts. Over the last two weeks, he's shown an increasingly good recognition of when to pass in those situations. That wasn't at all evident on Friday. (He only had two turnovers, though.)

The ball movement was abysmal. The Kings had 15 assists on 32 made field goals, and no one had more than three. (Jimmer, Chuck Hayes and John Salmons each had three.) This team's players aren't good enough to score efficiently without getting the ball in scoring position. Thornton basically had to create most of his own looks. That's not the best path. Boogie had to create his own looks. Ain't good. I think starting Aaron Brooks with Thornton was a root cause of that inability -- Brooks-Evans has been working because Tyreke can move the ball, while Brooks is a scorer who's comfortable bringing the ball up and initiating the offense but isn't a playmaker for others. (Proof: Brooks has 31 assists in 15 games. He has been the starting point guard for seven of them.)

Do you want to know where Isaiah Thomas stands in Keith Smart's pecking order? Tyreke sat with injury, Brooks fouled out in 30 minutes and ... Isaiah played two seconds. We should have read the signs when last season Smart called Jimmer the team's point guard of the future.

Still, it's a little hard to totally blame Smart: the Pacers have a big, physical backcourt, and Jimmer and El Flaco played well. Brooks is the starter, for better or worse, and he'd been good lately. Up front, with Jason Thompson in early foul trouble and the roster with only four legit big men, there wasn't much Smart could do to relieve Cousins' burden. There were only so many defenders he could put on West.

This team has an exceptionally small margin of error. With Tyreke, who has been the club's best player this season, out ... that margin shrinks even further. So it goes.

***

The fellas over at Indy Cornrows do a great job with game coverage -- go check out their reactions to the Pacers' win.

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