Rasual Butler threw down a dunk with 4:51 left in the fourth quarter to push the Indiana Pacers up 29 points, helping to cap what would be a 116-92 victory against the Sacramento Kings. The fourth quarter explosion helped put away a Kings team that had the game in single digits before Paul George drilled a buzzer beating three to end the third quarter, the lead getting pushed to 15 when he hit another three pointer to open the fourth.
It started a 16-2 run that last the first four minutes of the final quarter that put the Pacers up 23, resulting in a short night for the starters and a lack of need for Sacramento to bring DeMarcus Cousins from his fourth quarter rest. Indiana's ability to pounce all over the Kings with Cousins out of the game was huge, especially considering Cousin's contributions in the third quarter. Indiana was playing well offensively, but Sacramento was only within single digits because of Cousin's 19 third quarter points, part of his team high 31 points.
Just as Indiana had no answer for Cousins in the third, no one else on the Kings had an answer for Indiana's defense after the Pacers ratcheted up their effort early in the second quarter, when the Kings led by a point. Indiana has generally struggled with Rudy Gay since he was traded to Toronto, but he was held to just 12 points on 6-14 shooting, with Isaiah Thomas being held in check as well, scoring just seven on 3-9 shooting.
Gay was the only player besides Cousins to reach double figures on a night the Pacers were just the second team in Sacramento's last 19 games to hold them under triple digits. Indiana's defense helped open up their own offense for a season high 116, with the Pacers excelling off of Sacramento turnovers, scoring 22 points on 15 Kings miscues as part of their 25 fast break points.
George's second half scoring effort of 24 helped play the role of slump-buster, with George reaching 31 points on 10-18 shooting including four three pointers. He didn't look totally in sync offensively, at least not compared to some of his early season performances, but considering where he's been, coming off of a 2-14 shooting performance and not having an over 50% shooting night in 2014, it's a welcome step in the right direction.
Lance Stephenson led the way in the first half for the Pacers with 13, excelling in playmaking, but seemed a bit disjointed for whatever reason in the second half, but did wrap up with five rebounds and five assists to go with his 13. George Hill deserves plenty of credit for his defense on Thomas, with early scoring leading to his nine points.
Five Pacers reached double figures, David West scored 16 on 7-11 shooting. West had little effort going up against Sacramento's front court shooting, while also grabbing a team best eight boards. Roy Hibbert had 10 points, picking up a pair of blocks, but Sacramento had a lot of success inside, grabbing 15 offensive boards and scoring 56 points in the paint, largely due to Cousins's success.
Bench defense was an issue in the second quarter as the Kings took the lead behind big shots from Jimmer Fredette, but Indiana's bench still got some punches in offensively with C.J. Watson playing big in the fourth quarter, scoring eight of his 10 points in the last quarter. Danny Granger and Luis Scola each scored nine points with Scola grabbing seven boards.
The Pacers shot 54.9% in the win, dropping the Kings all the way to 42.4%, when they had sat near or above 50% for much of the first half. Indiana becomes the second team to win 30 games in the 2013-14 season, maintaining their league best record at 30-7. Frank Vogel also gained the honor of being the head coach for the Eastern Conference All-Stars, where he'll be joined by George, and no doubt another player or two.
Up next for Indiana is a home game against the New York Knicks, a Thursday tipoff on TNT. The Knicks had won five straight and six of seven before losing to Charlotte on the second night of a back-to-back.