By Charlie O. Mallonee
The Sacramento Kings knew going into Indianapolis they faced an uphill battle with the Indiana Pacers. The upstart Kings handed the Pacers a 111-110 loss in Sacramento last Saturday night and the Indiana team was ready to revenge that loss.
The Pacers are one of the best defensive teams in the NBA and they win by controlling the pace of the game. Indiana had no intention of allowing the Kings to run and gun like they did in Cleveland on Friday night.
Indiana did slow the Kings down and the Pacers won the game 107-97.
This was the second game of a back-to-back set on the road for the Kings. Some statisticians place the chances of the visiting team winning the second game of a back-to-back schedule on the road at under 33 percent. That means the Kings were at a great disadvantage before the opening tipoff of the game in Indiana on Saturday night.
Battle of the Tiers
This was a battle of two teams that are in different NBA tiers. The Pacers are a solid Tier Two team (a consistent playoff team) that may be ready to jump into to the lower end of Tier One in the Eastern Conference. The Kings are a Tier Three team (Draft Lottery participants) who are trying to become a lower Tier Two team that battles for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West.
The fact that the Kings split the season series (1-1) with an accomplished team like the Pacers shows the kind of improvement they are experiencing this season.
The Pacers “D” suppressed the Kings’ offense
After posting big team numbers versus the Cavaliers, the Kings team stats dropped dramatically against the defensive-minded Pacers:
- Field Goal Shooting: 38-for-90 (42.2%)
- 3P Field Goal Shooting: 28.1% (9-for-32)
- Points in the Paint: IND 56 SAC 46
- Second Chance Points: SAC 24 IND 19
- Fast Break Points: SAC 22 IND 18
- The Pacers outrebounded the Kings 52-43
A Check of the Book
The Kings played the game without Iman Shumpert who was inactive due to an injury that was categorized as “load management”. Joel Embiid has been kept out games for the same reason a number of times.
- Buddy Hield was the Kings top scorer with 20 points shooting 8-for-20 from the field
- De’Aaron Fox started slow but stepped up in the second half to put 18 points in the scorebook along with six assists
- Willie-Cauley Stein put up 14 points and grabbed nine rebounds
- Bogdan Bogdanovic and Justin Jackson each scored 11 points in the game
- Nemanja Bjelica scored six points and hauled in 12 rebounds for SAC
The Pacers were still without their star guard Victor Oladipo (sore right knee). Indiana still has no definite date for his return to active status.
- Thaddeus Young led the Pacers scoring attack with 20 points
- Bojan Bogdanovic added 18 points converting 7-of-7 from the free throw line
- Former King Darren Collison scored 14 points and dished out six assists
- Miles Turner put nine points in the book and grabbed 13 rebounds
With the loss, the Kings record drops to 13-12 for the season and they fall to ninth in the Western Conference. The Pacers improve to 16-10 on the year and are now in sole possession of fourth place in the Eastern Conference.
The Kings will wrap up this four-game road trip on Tuesday night in Chicago versus the Bulls. A win would give Sacramento a record of 3-1 on the trip which they would be very happy to finish with for a December road tour of the East.
The Pacers will host the Wizards on Monday.