The Indiana Pacers fell victim to a feisty zone defense by the Sacramento Kings that forced an ugly fourth-quarter collapse resulting in a 92-88 loss. Can't say this type of loss is unfamiliar for the Pacers but it was the first such winning-time wilt for this year's team and a rough way to start a three-game West Coast roadie.
The Pacers were unable to attack the middle of the Kings' zone and struggled to get good shots, making just three of 16 shots in the fourth quarter while turning it over nine times as the Kings outscored the Pacers 26-8 in the fourth quarter.
There should be some stern discussions among the players after this mess. The Kings were a desperate team and that desperation showed up with a boost off the bench from Francisco Garcia and Isaiah Thomas, with both adding energy at both ends.
At the same time, the zone defense seemed to zap the energy of the Pacers. Paul George in particular seemed all out of sorts, making weak passes for turnovers and shooting the ball with zero confidence. Once the clanks kicked in, none of the Pacers seemed to be able to put a good stroke on a perimeter shot.
This one will sting considering the Pacers put forth such a strong effort in the third quarter, tightening up things at both ends and more importantly on the glass to run their lead to as much as 16 points. Darren Collison took advantage of Thomas to get in the lane and score 13 of his 16 points in the third quarter.
Unfortunately in hindsight, Collison was so successful he forced Keith Smart to switch to a zone defense and the Pacers simply did a horrible job of attacking the zone. That combined with Sacramento hauling in 30 offensive rebounds for the game and, yeah, the Pacers deserved to dump this game.
We'll see how the Pacers react now, because things don't get any easier in January.
A few thoughts and observations after the jump.
- The Pacers took a five-point lead to the half, despite getting worked over on the glass in the second quarter. DeMarcus Cousins had 12 rebounds at the break, 10 on the offensive end as the Kings had 19 total offensive boards. It was almost comical how the Kings continued to gather their own caroms. The good news was, they were creating so many opportunities for offensive rebounds by shooting 33.3% from the floor.
- The Pacers offset the rebounding deficit by shooting 50% in the second quarter, after shooting below 40% in the first quarter.
- The Pacers third quarter was incredible as they made 12 of 19 (63%) and held the Kings to only five rebounds and three offensive rebounds after giving up 34 rebounds (19 offensive) in the first half. Pacers must've thought they had the game locked up after that effort, but the Kings kept grinding away.
- Roy Hibbert and Paul George connected a couple of times on the give and go with Roy dropping a pass off to the cutting George for a bucket at the rim. Hibbert was great on offense but ended up dealing with foul trouble in the second half and then was not a factor in the zone offense. Hibbert finished with 13 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists.
- Paul George was up and down all night. He had some great defensive plays, including two spectacular denials at the rim in transition. But his body language and sloppy play down the stretch really hurt.
- Danny Granger finished with 16 points and 7 rebounds and tried to make a play late in the game. Down three, Granger had two free throws with seven second remaining. He made the first one and then intentionally missed the second, hitting the front rim perfectly to create a long rebound. Only problem was he ran into the lane as he threw it, violating the basic rule of not crossing the line until the ball hits the rim. That kind of night.