Another missed opportunity. The Sacramento Kings are playing a better brand of basketball of late, but Friday evening’s overtime loss to the Indiana Pacers stings. To open a four games in five nights stretch, the Kings blew a 16-point lead to a relentless Pacers team and lost by a final of 115-111.
Sacramento couldn’t miss in the first half, knocking down 11-of-16 from long range to take a 64-55 lead into the intermission. The ball was moving freely, everyone was involved and if not for the Pacers turning the ball over just three times in the first half, the Kings' lead could have been much greater.
Pacers head coach Nate McMillan made adjustments at the break. His team came out physical, like they did a week earlier when these two teams met. Initially the Kings responded well, pushing their lead to 16 points, but then the game started to slow down.
“When they started being a little bit more aggressive, getting to the basket, we turned the ball over a couple of times,” point guard Ty Lawson told reporters following the game. “I thought we as a team got tight. Instead of attacking like we normally were, we started being a little apprehensive.”
Sacramento had just eight field goal attempts in the third quarter as the game slowed to a crawl. They went 15-of-19 from the line in the quarter, but their offensive rhythm was clearly disrupted.
“The second half was the tale for us in our undoing,” coach Dave Joerger said in post game. “We shot 37.5 percent in the second half, we just couldn’t score.”
That carried over to the fourth quarter where the Kings continued to control the game until the midway point of the period.
“We had them on their heels pretty much the whole game besides the last five minutes of the fourth,” Darren Collison said to media members after the game.
The Pacers were the aggressors late. They chipped away at the Kings' 11-point fourth quarter lead, but Sacramento still had control of the game.
At the 3:39 mark of the quarter with the Kings leading 100-95, Jeff Teague missed a floater in the lane. DeMarcus Cousins went high for the rebound and bought it down, but veteran forward Matt Barnes lowered his shoulder into Myles Turner who was crashing the glass and after a review, he was called for a Flagrant 1.
Instead of being up five with the ball, Turner hit one-of-two at the line and the Pacers retained possession. Turner hit a 19-foot jumper to cut the Kings lead to two and set up a wild final three minutes.
“It’s not just that one play by Matt, it’s every play in all. I can take credit for some of the plays I made down the stretch,” Collison said. “Whether it’s Cuz or GT (Garrett Temple), everybody makes some plays that we wish we could take back. In a game like that, there’s no excuses.”
Sacramento almost won the game in the final 0.6 seconds of the fourth when Barnes threw an alley-oop pass to Cousins on a back cut. Cousins got his hands on the ball, but it rolled off the iron to send the game to overtime.
The Kings shot just 3-of-9 in the extra session, but they had an opportunity to tie the game late on a Collison layup. Initially it looked like the veteran point guard was blocked, but replay footage showed that the ball caught the underside of the basket and rolled out of bounds off the Kings.
“I thought it was either going to be a foul or they tipped the ball,” Collison said. “But they obviously saw the review and they saw it the way they saw it.”
That sequence sealed the deal. It was one of the few miscues for Collison who finished the night with 26 points, five assists and three steals.
It’s a disappointing outcome for the Kings, who came into the game with a modest two-game win streak. Following the contest, the team boarded a flight for Charlotte where they will face a Hornets team Saturday that lost 110-107 on the road to the Knicks Friday night.
The Kings have Sunday open before finishing off their brutal eight-game road trip with their third set of back-to-backs Monday in Philly and Tuesday in Houston.