Stop me if you’ve heard this before: The Sacramento Kings built up a huge lead against the Indiana Pacers, watched it slowly whittle away, and completely blow it down the stretch. Nine days after losing a huge lead to the Pacers at home, the Kings decided to go for a repeat performance in Indiana, this time waiting until overtime to sputter it away.
The story of this game was the Kings’ inability to handle the Pacers’ physicality once they ratcheted the pressure up in the third quarter. The Kings were humming on offense, running beautiful offense through DeMarcus Cousins (26 points, 16 rebounds, 5 assists) and getting great shots all over the court. The Kings tied a franchise record with 7 three pointers in the first quarter on their way to an explosive 64 point first half. The ball was moving well and everyone was shooting well; Darren Collison (26 points, 4/6 3P), Arron Afflalo (15 points, 3/5 3P), and Ty Lawson (16 points, 2/3 3P) were the main beneficiaries. The Kings built a 9 point lead at half and built a 16 point lead in the third quarter.
The game turned when the Pacers amped up the physicality on defense, and the Kings responded poorly. The Kings had 19 turnovers in the game, six of those coming in the third quarter. The ball movement dried up, and disappointingly the Kings only ended the game with 22 assists to offset their turnovers. The Kings also started fouling on defense and letting the Pacers get to the free throw line; Paul George (33 points, 16/17 FT) did most of his damage from the line. The Pacers chipped away at the lead, and tied the game at 104 on George’s free throws with a minute remaining.
Overtime ended up becoming a physical slugfest, with plenty of contact left uncalled on both sides. The Kings struggled to get offense, staying close mostly because Collison and Afflalo hit some tough shots. George ended up hitting the gamewinning shot, a midrange jumper over Afflalo’s outstretched arms. Cousins and Collison could not score on the other end given multiple chances, and that was the ballgame.
The Kings now fall to 2-3 on this roadtrip, but continue to play competitive basketball. They play again tomorrow against the Hornets, and then a back-to-back against Philadelphia and Houston to close it out. If they can get one more win out of the three I’d be pretty satisfied.
- Matt Barnes helped play into the teamwide brain malfunction with the biggest brainfart tonight: an atrocious, obvious flagrant foul with the Kings nursing a five point lead with 3 minutes to go. If he had just boxed out Myles Turner, Cousins would have gotten the rebound, but instead he turned and shoulder checked the Pacers big man. The Pacers were able to get a free throw out of it and scored on the ensuing possession, cutting the lead to two.
- Collison and Lawson spent a lot of time together at the guard spots and helped turbocharge the Kings offense. Unfortunately, this meant less minutes for Malachi Richardson, who didn’t see gametime in the second half.
- I think Jeff Teague had himself a sneaky good game tonight, with 18 points and 8 assists. Teague’s pick-and-roll play helped keep the Pacers in the game, and he broke down the Kings defense with both scoring and passing. A lot of C.J Miles (18 points, 6/9 3P) three pointers came after Teague had made a key pass against the Kings’ pick-and-roll coverage.
- Kosta Koufos anchored the defense mostly for the second unit tonight and did a great job on Al Jefferson. The Kings killed themselves at times not letting Koufos guarding straight up, offering help when there was no need for it.
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