Four of those seven losses were in tight games that the Pacers let slip away in the final minute of the game, including their last outing in Portland on Friday. A horrid start had the Pacers down 13 against the Blazers in the first quarter which Rick Carlisle pointed toward as a factor despite his team’s ability to come back and put themselves in position to win.
Against the Kings on Sunday, the Pacers jumped out to a 13-point lead early, executing well at both ends of the floor while also working to control the pace against a Kings team that would prefer to speed up the pace.
But as the Pacers prior results show, the Blue and Gold have a small margin of error regardless of opponent and when they suffer through stretches of poor play, it can quickly level out a fast start. Turnovers were the main culprit in the Pacers putting this W in peril in the second half.
The Pacers finished with 21 turnovers which the Kings were able to cash in for 24 points at the other end. Playing without Malcolm Brogdon didn’t help as the Pacers had to juggle their backcourt rotation.
T.J. McConnell had another productive night as a starter with 18 points and 4 assists, but he also had 4 turnovers. Brad Wannamaker gives bursts of goodness but overall struggled to run the reserve rotation and added 3 turnovers, two of which were just ugly.
But enough with what went wrong, here’s a run down of who made big contributions to the win:
- Let’s start with Caris LeVert and the steady scoring effort he delivered down the stretch when needed. LeVert struggled from behind the arc and didn’t shoot a great percentage, but his ability to control the pace of a possession and attract the eye of the defense while also delivering as a midrange maestro, was critical. LeVert finished with 22 points and 6 rebounds. He earned no favors from the refs as they swallowed their whistles on a late move LeVert made which drew plenty of contact, especially if you compare it to the whistles that were blowing at the other end to keep the Kings alive.
- Myles Turner was equally critical, giving the Pacers a strong second half boost at both ends of the floor. Turner has 12 points but grabbed 15 rebounds, blocked 5 shots and made other plays on offense with 3 assists.
- Domantas Sabonis put up good numbers, 17 points, 10 rebounds, but struggled with foul trouble and Carlisle eventually stuck with Turner to close this one out in the middle which tells you how well Turner was playing because.
- McConnell’s productive night also had big plays in the final minute. He made one tough layup then missed another which looked eerily similar to a big one he missed in Portland. Fortunately the Pacers were able to get a couple of stops and McConnell had a couple of key rebounds then was eventually fouled and made the final point of the game which gave the Kings the ball trying to tie without a timeout and 2.5 seconds left. There would be no shot.
- Rookie Chris Duarte was cooking early and played a big part of the quality start. Duarte finished with 15 points and 5 rebounds with 9 of those points coming in the first quarter.
- McConnell also had plenty to say after the game to a fan who had obviously been chirping all game. Turner also joined in for a few verbal jabs, but McConnell mentioned how great it is to have fans back in the arena and hearing the trash talk on the road helps add fuel to the fire.
- The Kings used a few hot stretches from behind the arc to make their runs. Buddy Hield early and Tyrese Haliburton late were the biggest problems as the pair of Kings combined for 8 three balls, but Haliburton’s late, long shot for the win missed badly and was scooped up by McConnell for the eventual free throw finisher.
The Pacers now have two days off before heading to the mountains to play rough back-to-back in Denver on Wednesday and Utah on Thursday. Stealing a win in at least one of those games would make for a positive trip thanks to the win in Sacramento.