The Indiana Pacers found themselves in Sacramento tonight to face the Kings on their final game of what has been a disastrous 7-game homestand.
The Kings desperately needed a win tonight, but maybe even more importantly than the win, this season had started to take a serious turn for the depressing over the last week, so any sign of life would have been appreciated.
Fortunately for all parties, the Kings had one of the better first quarters they’ve had all season. With Ty Lawson out, Dave Joerger sent Garrett Temple and his decent handle to the bench, forcibly promoting Arron Afflalo to the starting unit. Joerger also went back to Kosta Koufos over Anthony Tolliver in the other big with Cousins spot, which was mildly surprising.
The starters played well. The Kings jumped off to an extremely hot start with Rudy Gay, DeMarcus Cousins, and Darren Collison leading the way, but the ball movement in general was particularly phenomenal. When Collison gives the Kings 3rd option numbers the Kings’ offense looks so much more dynamic.
The bench unit struggled, letting the Pacers back into the game to an extent, but once the starters returned the Kings started cruising again, and took a healthy 19-point lead into halftime. It felt like it had been weeks since the Kings had a decent lead.
The Kings started the second half with a sloppier rendition of their first half performance. They didn’t quite match their first half dominance, but it was good enough to keep the struggling Pacers down.
Everything came grinding to a halt towards the end of the third quarter when Rudy Gay fell to the floor on what was one of those ultra-scary non-contact injuries. Grant and Jerry immediately speculated that he had suffered some kind of an Achilles injury, and it certainly looked like the typical Achilles injury scene. He couldn’t put any weight on that leg, and had to be carried off by his teammates. Rough scene.
The Kings played like a team that had just lost their second best player with a potentially devastating injury just minutes prior to open the fourth quarter. I’m not trying to excuse the Kings’ play because of Rudy’s injury, especially because the wheels were starting to wobble towards the end of the third anyway, but they completely fell off in the fourth.
What was a 19-point lead at halftime vanished, and if the Kings were going to win this one, they were going to have to outplay the Pacers in crunch time. As you all know, that is not a Kings strength.
DeMarcus Cousins finished his triple double mid-way through the fourth, if you’re into that sort of thing. I thought Cousins’ passing was of particular importance tonight with Ty Lawson out, and this felt like a very natural triple double in comparison to some of the triple double chasing we’ve seen around here over the years. Despite the triple double, Cousins struggled in the second half, and with Rudy Gay out, the Kings really needed more scoring from him late.
Immediately after Grant Napear announced that the preliminary diagnoses on Rudy Gay’s injury was, in fact, a torn Achilles, the Kings’ lead that was slowly slipping away finally slipped. The Pacers took a late fourth quarter lead, and that was that. You’ve seen this play before, blah, blah, blah, blah.
The Kings lose, but Rudy Gay’s injury is the story tonight. Hoping for the best. What a disaster.