Paul George scored 36 points, none bigger than a four-point play with 15.1 seconds left in regulation, then came through with two steals late in overtime as the Indiana Pacers broke the hearts of the short-handed Sacramento Kings in overtime Friday night 116-111 at Sleep Train Arena.
The Kings (15-27) played without top scorers DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay—both out with injuries to their left legs—with Derrick Williams and Aaron Gray starting.
It turned into the Marcus and IT show for the Kings—as in guards Marcus Thornton and Isaiah Thomas. Thornton scored a season-high 42 points on 16-of-27 shooting and Thomas had 38 points and six assists and Sacramento got off to a fast start.
The Kings hung 37 on the NBA’s top-ranked defense in the first quarter, powered by 22 from Thornton, and led 37-26 at the break. Sacramento led by as much as 17 points in the second quarter before settling for a 60-50 halftime lead.
Indiana (34-8) just kept chipping away, though, getting 10 third-quarter points from George Hill while cutting the Kings’ lead in half by period’s end at 84-79.
The Pacers came back to take the lead on David West’s fadeaway with 2:38 to go, 97-95, but the Kings answered, tying the game on Thomas’ long jumper and taking the lead back with 1:28 remaining on a 3-pointer by Thomas.
Williams hit one of two from the line and Thomas sank a pair to put Sacramento up 103-99 with 18.3 seconds to go.
After a timeout by the Pacers, George came off a screen and fired up a long 3-pointer from the right wing. Williams put up a hand to defend and was called for a questionable foul on the shot, which went in. George’s free throw tied the game at 103-103 and Thomas missed a wild 18-footer as time wound down.
Sacramento took a short-lived 106-105 lead early in overtime on Thornton’s final basket, a 3-pointer 35 seconds into the extra session. Thornton was 7-of-15 from long distance on the night.
The Kings got it to one, 112-111 on Thomas’ jumper with 1:40 to go, but George stole the ball from Williams and Thomas on back-to-back possessions to help seal the win for the Pacers, who are the only team in the NBA with fewer than 10 losses.
No other King finished in double figures—Thornton and Thomas accounted for 80 of the team’s 111 points. Williams did finish with 11 rebounds and Jason Thompson had 10 before fouling out.
Indiana’s offensive distribution was much more even. Besides George’s heroics, Lance Stephenson had 24 points, 10 rebounds and six assists for the Pacers, West scored 22 points, Roy Hibbert notched 10 points and five blocked shots and Hill had 10 points and eight assists.
Indiana was 41-for-95 (43.2 percent) overall, 8-for-24 (33.3 percent) from 3-point land and 26-for-33 (78.8 percent) from the foul line. Sacramento was 39-for-101 (38.6 percent), 12-for-32 (37.5 percent) and 21-for-29 (72.4 percent).
Even without their leading rebounder in Cousins, the Kings won the glass 53-49, but turnovers were lethal—Sacramento gave it away 18 times, leading to 19 Indiana points, while the Pacers turned it over just 12 times, with the Kings converted into only five points.
There are no moral victories in the NBA and the Kings have to feel like they let a major upset slip away from them. The win also clinches a season sweep for the Pacers, who beat Sacramento in Indianapolis on Jan. 14.
The Kings are home again on Sunday, hosting the Denver Nuggets for a 6 p.m. Pacific start.
Tags: Sacramento Kings