Kings fall short vs. Pacers after overcoming slow start


Despite a remarkably slow start, the Kings had several chances to tie or win Sunday's game against the Indiana Pacers in the final minute.

None of those chances came to fruition, and the Kings fell 94-91 at Golden 1 Center.

De'Aaron Fox, who has struggled mightily through the early stretch of the season, had an open 17-footer that missed with 16 seconds left. However, Fox did not give up and managed to force a jump ball on a tie-up with Justin Holiday.

After the first jump was waived off, Richaun Holmes managed to snag the second one off Fox's hand, and allowed the Kings to call timeout and set up a play with 5.8 seconds remaining.

On the inbound, Tyrese Haliburton had an opening from deep but air-balled a 30-footer. T.J. McConnell got the rebound, and that was all she wrote from the state capital.

Kings coach Luke Walton didn't disapprove of Haliburton's deep attempt late, despite Sacramento being down just two points going into the play. Haliburton wasn't the primary option on the play, as Walton explained postgame.

"The play call was [for] Harrison [Barnes], we knew we were in the bonus, Harrison had done a great job of getting to the line, so we have certain plays for certain situations," Walton said postgame. "It was going to be a Harrison ISO at the top of the key there, and they used their inbound guy to deny that. Totally fine with me, Richaun popped, moved back to Tyrese, we're down two, Tyrese gets an open look for three and he hits big shots.


"So, he missed this one tonight. They took away option one, you have to be ready for option two, and Tyrese got a good look but just didn't deliver."

The Kings trailed by as much as 15 in this game, using a strong defensive performance to hang around. Sacramento forced 18 Indiana turnovers, including three steals apiece for Haliburton and Buddy Hield.

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A rough first quarter in a mid-afternoon start ultimately proved insurmountable. The Kings trailed by eight after the first 12 minutes, allowing Indiana to shoot 58 percent (11/19) from the field.

An offense that ranked second in the NBA in points per game going into Sunday shot just 36.9 percent from the field and 29.4 percent from behind the 3-point line. That likely is the easiest explanation for the significant rebounding disparity, as the Pacers pulled down 65 rebounds, compared to just 41 for the Kings.

The Kings are 5-5 through 10 games, but they have been competitive in every single one of them. Sacramento's largest margin of defeat was 12 against the Warriors, but the Kings actually held the lead for eight minutes longer than Golden State did and trailed by just two entering the fourth.

There is much less quit in this Kings team there has been in past seasons. This certainly was a winnable game, but there unquestionably is a different vibe around this year's group.

After the matinee start, the Kings will be back at it Monday night as the reigning Western Conference champion Phoenix Suns roll into Sacramento.