Word spread quickly that Ron Artest was not in town and wouldn't be suiting up for the Sacramento Kings Sunday night. Then we heard Jermaine O'Neal's knee would keep him out, too. When J.O. started the game it appeared the Pacers would be in good shape against the short-handed Kings. Wrong!
The Pacers would've been much better off with Artest trying to impress his old team and most likely dominating the ball. Without Artest the Kings were able to get things going once their backcourt realized they didn't really have to worry about the defense. That allowed the Kings to go off for a 40 point third quarter. The Pacers never recovered and limped off the floor a beaten team, 110-93. Some quick thoughts:
- Kevin Martin and Mike Bibby absolutely had their way with the Pacers. Martin pumped in 35 points, while Bibby had what seemed like an easy 28 points. They also combined for five steals.
- Martin's rotator cuff may be sore in the morning after getting off 23 FGAs AND 23 FTAs. That's my kind of gunner.
- The good? Jermaine O'Neal played through his problem knee to score 19 points with 9 boards. He also rejected 6 Kings' offerings, a couple in spectacular fashion.
- Mike Dunleavy had a pretty nice night offensively, but those numbers couldn't make up for the porous defense.
- For the second game in a row, the Pacers have allowed their opponents a 40 point quarter. Now there's a strong loss indicator.
- With Marquis Daniels sitting out due to a knee injury, Shawne Williams started to allow Danny Granger to come off the bench. Granger was out of sync most of the night.
- This loss really hurts. Not only was it painful from a performance stand point, but both the Bulls and Cavs lost earlier in the day, so the Pacers blew a nice opportunity to draw closer to two teams ahead of them in the standings.
- With this bitter taste in their mouths, the Pacers now have a home-and-home with the Phoenix Suns. I'd say their backs are close to the wall. Will anyone come out fighting?
- ON THE COURT...FIGHTING, ON THE COURT. NO, NOT LITERALLY FIGHTING, PLAYING WITH SOME FIGHT...UGH!