Kings drop homestand finale to the Pacers, and lose Rudy Gay to injury

January 19, 2017

NBA, Sacramento Kings

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Sacramento Kings forward Rudy Gay, center, is carried off the court after suffering what the team reported to be a torn left achilles tendon, during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Indiana Pacers, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017, in Sacramento, Calif. The Pacers won 106-100. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

By Morris Phillips

SACRAMENTO–For a year, and maybe longer, the Kings have contemplated life without Rudy Gay.  Now that the reality has arrived that the Kings will play the second half of their season without the high risk, high reward forward, the reality that this moment couldn’t have come in a more devastating manner has arrived as well.

With the Kings leading the Pacers by 10 points in the third quarter on Wednesday, Gay put his head down and attempted to attack the rim from the left wing. But in an instant, and immediately following his first step, the 30-year old was felled by what would be diagnosed as a season-ending, leg injury, most likely a torn Achilles, pending a thorough inspection.

Unable to put any weight on his foot, Gay was carried to the locker room by teammates.  That moment was just one of many during a second half collapse that saw the Kings squander a 19-point halftime lead, allowing the Pacers to escape with a 106-100 win.

The loss capped a 1-7 homestand that has Sacramento looking in from the outside of the playoff race, with an eight-game road trip starting Friday in Memphis.  But the playoffs weren’t on the mind of the players after the game.

“That’s a tough thing to watch, man.  I hate it for him,” DeMarcus Cousins said. “I spoke to him and told him I’ll keep you in my prayers.”

Gay missed eight games in December, and the first two games this month, as the Kings struggled to find a rhythm without then with their high-scoring forward.  With him, the Kings dropped five of their last six games–all at Golden 1 Arena–despite Gay scoring in double figures in all six.

But that pattern was familiar with Gay in the lineup.  Despite his solid offensive numbers, the Kings often struggled with him as ball movement and shot making lagged, while the team also struggled defensively.   That prompted the constant trade rumors as the Kings reportedly listened, but never found a suitable deal.  Now, with Gay’s absence, GM Vlade Divac will have to consider another trade chip to shake up his club, and bring valuable shooting and defense to a team that’s dropped eight of ten.

On Wednesday, the Pacers did the Kings no favors with their rollover act in the first half, in which they trailed by as many as 22 points and looked lifeless.  Starting guard Jeff Teague got into early, foul trouble, and the Pacers were embarassed on the glass, getting out-rebounded 24-11 in the first half.

But in the second half, Teague returned, and the Pacers roared, outscoring the Kings 65-40 in the final, two quarters.  When Gay went down late in the third quarter, the Kings were still in control, but the injury was in the midsts of a 9-0 run for Indiana that had things much closer just minutes into the fourth.

Indiana took the lead for good with 1:55 remaining on a pair of made free throws by Teague.  Cousins missed two of his four free throw attempts down the stretch, as the Pacers scored nine of the game’s final 11 points to win it.

The Kings fell 1 1/2 games behind Denver with the loss, with the Nuggets currently occupying the eighth and final playoff spot.  The Kings also trail the Blazers, and are percentage points behind the Pelicans as their skid has tightened the standings. 

On Friday, the Kings open their road trip in Memphis against the Grizzlies at 5pm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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