The Indiana Pacers changed things up Tuesday night and took care of business on the road by beating the Sacramento Kings, 117-109.
The Pacers were ready to play from the start and fed off the point guard tandem of T.J. Ford and Travis Diener to set the tone throughout the game. Ford jump started the Pacers early, bouncing back from a tough outing against Denver to set up teammates and procure a couple of steals which fueled an early lead for the Pacers.
Travis Diener came off the bench firing and was hot all night. When Ford began to struggle with a couple of bad turnovers in the second half, Jim O'Brien turned to Diener and he finished out the game at point and finished off the Kings with a dagger 3-ball with 2:23 to go.
The Kings had cut what was a 20-point lead down to nine which drew a timeout from Jim O'Brien. Off the timeout, Diener ended up with an open look which answered the Kings run.
It would be the final answer as the Pacers absorbed several runs by the Kings throughout the night, but were always able to answer and push their lead back to a comfortable double-digit margin.
Here are some more thoughts:
- The Ford/Diener combo produced 29 points, 12 assists and 5 steals. Diener made 5 of 6 3-balls to finish with 18 of those points. Hopefully T.J. comes out just as strong tomorrow night after riding the bench during the fourth quarter.
- Jarrett Jack is officially a monster. He put in another 40 minute night on the court and finished with 26 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 steals and 0, zip, nada turnovers. Plus he was part of a team effort to keep the Kings' Kevin Martin in check. Martin finished 3-12, but did get to the line and make all 14 of his free throws. Still, Martin didn't get crazy, making shots from wherever he chose as he did at the Fieldhouse earlier in the year.
- Troy Murphy scored 20 first half points, including a couple of sweet dunks in traffic. T.J. Ford was able to get Murph going early by setting him up with a couple of open threes. Murph ended up with 23 points (8-12, 4-6), 10 rebounds and 6 assists.
- Brandon Rush struggled offensively but was fine on defense and hitting the glass. Just seemed out of rhythm all night on offense.
- The Kings went real small in the third quarter and the Pacers tried to match. It seemed to work in the Kings favor, but the Pacers helped out by simply not taking care of the ball. With a 16-20 point lead and the ability to get shots at will against the Kings, why not slow it down a bit? There were a few too many possessions where the Pacers jacked up a jumper real early in the shot clock. This part of the JOB philosophy just ignores common sense. Alls well that ends well.
- Umm, I hesitate to mention this, but the Bucks and Bulls lost tonight, so the Pacers are two games behind the Bucks for the final playoff spot in the East.