The Kings ran up against a buzzsaw Friday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. After losing their first three games to open the season, the Indiana Pacers came into Friday night at 19-6 over their previous 25 games and riding a four-game win streak.
Sacramento looked solid early, but the shots stopped falling and a very good Pacers team took advantage. Indiana valued the ball, knocked down their 3-pointers and played an efficient game to come away with the 119-105 victory.
T.J. Warren has given the Kings fits for years and Friday was no different. The combo-forward led all scorers with 23 points on 10-of-16 shooting. Warren was one of seven players to score in double-figures for the Pacers as they ran over the Kings.
Here are three takeaways as the Kings dropped their second straight game to fall to 12-16 on the season.
Holmes, sweet Holmes
Richaun Holmes is one of the best bargains in the NBA, which he once again reminded everyone watching the Kings and Pacers on Monday.
The 26-year-old center is a defensive stalwart that makes the Kings a better team. Against Indiana, it was his offense that made the difference.
Holmes knocked down his first nine shots to finish with 20 points. He added nine rebounds and blocked a shot in his 24 minutes on the court.
A quarter to remember
Bogdan Bogdanovic missed the game in Indiana with a sore right ankle, but the Kings have another Serbian sniper ready to take on the scoring load early in Nemanja Bjelica.
From the opening tip, Bjelica was aggressive against Domantas Sabonis. He attacked the Pacers big in the block and then drew him outside for a few long balls as well. Bjelica scored 13 points in the first quarter as the Kings got off to a good start.
As quickly as it started, Bjelica’s hot start went away. He couldn’t buy a bucket after the first 12 minutes, finishing with 13 points on 5-of-15 shooting.
When Bjelica is hitting his shots, the Kings are a very different team. When he’s not…
With the game slipping out of control in the third, coach Luke Walton went with a jumbo look. It didn’t last long, but for a stretch, Walton used Cory Joseph with Harrison Barnes in the backcourt. He shifted Marvin Bagley to the three and left Bjlecia and Holmes in the frontcourt.
Walton needs to find creative ways to get both Bagley and Holmes on the court at the same time. This was one way to do it. Eventually, Walton will have no choice but to play the pair together.
Bagley is the scorer and Holmes is the defender. Neither can stretch the defense, but someone has to cover up for Bagley while he learns the defensive sets.