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Pacers final score: Kings slice through Pacers 137-114

Sacramento made quick work of Indiana tonight, dropping the Pacers to 1-2 on their road trip. Jalen Smith and Bennedict Mathurin each scored 22 points.

Indiana Pacers v Sacramento Kings Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

One of the most anticipated games of the year turned into a resounding dud for the Indiana Pacers, getting blown out by the Sacramento Kings. Falling behind by double figures in the first quarter may be nothing new for Indiana, but the Kings made sure they never climbed back into it tonight, handing the Pacers their worst loss of the year.

The Pacers appeared to have something early, jumping out to a 5-1 lead on a pair of wide open looks from Jalen Smith and Andrew Nembhard, but a quick timeout by Mike Brown made sure that was that, kicking off a 6-0 run and a lead the rest of the way. Sacramento extended the lead out to double figures on a 12-0 run late in the quarter, T.J. McConnell hitting a running three to beat the buzzer proving a drop in the ocean.

Indiana proved unprepared for the pace of the game, trying to keep up with Sacramento’s speed, but never getting in sync while doing so. As such, their shooting suffered in a big way. They were never able to climb above 40%, missing just about everything from three point range, but showing little to no touch around the rim, shooting just 5-20 outside of the restricted area.

Even cutting the lead to six to open the second quarter proved unsustainable, missing their next five shots as the Kings effortlessly dropped seven straight. The inability to win the second quarter proved the death knell, though the Pacers managed to find a significant bright spot early in the third behind Smith.

Smith stepped up and scored 18 points in the third quarter, hitting three threes to help slice a 25-point deficit down to 15. Unfortunately, Smith would exit the game following that after getting elbowed hard in the jaw by Malik Monk. He had scored 22 points on 8-10 shooting and 4-5 from deep, but he would not return.

The Pacers tried to capitalize on Smith’s play with Buddy Hield cutting the lead to 12 with 3:40 remaining in the third, but just over a minute later, Sacramento laid waste to Indiana’s comeback attempt, scoring seven straight and closing the third on a 19-8 run to total 44 points and a comfortable victory, treating the fourth quarter as a coronation to the ceremonial beam lighting, the Pacers barely mustering up a fourth quarter tie, the most positive quarter of the night.

Smith was just one of three double figure scorers in a rough night all around for Indiana. He was one of two rotation players to shoot above 50% on the night, pulling in a team high six rebounds, doing so all in 19 minutes. The other guy with a somewhat positive shooting night was Hield, who scored 17 on 6-13 shooting, 3-8 from deep, leading the way from three point range as well.

Hield wasn’t great, but managed the boos raining down on him in his return to Sacramento well enough, hitting a tough corner three that made it a 12-point game late in the third. It was the better of the two outings from former Kings as Tyrese Haliburton fell a point shy of a double double with nine and 10 assists, committing two turnovers.

Haliburton was one of the guys most frustrated with how the game was going, his frustration with lack of calls on drives to the basket leading to a technical foul. Nothing came easy for him tonight, shooting just 4-13 and 1-6 from deep. It didn’t help that his backcourt support was lacking tonight with Nembhard scoring just six, missing all three of his three point attempts.

The only other double figure scorer on the night was Mathurin, which was a welcome sight given his own shooting struggles (6-17, 0-4 from three). He still somehow wound up with 22 points, getting to the line 11 times, making 10. Myles Turner didn’t fair any better, shooting 2-9 and 0-3 from three, finishing with just four points, but pulling in six rebounds and three blocks.

Beyond that, the Pacers just didn’t appear ready for what they were facing. The Kings didn’t get much of a night from Domantas Sabonis (11 points, 10 rebounds with four fouls) and De’Aaron Fox took a long time to get going before he came alive in the third, but it didn’t matter at all on the scoreboard. Sacramento just dominated everywhere. They raced past the Pacers in transition, outscoring them 31-8 and put in threes at a higher volume and percentage. In a game with a lot of storylines, the Kings controlled them all.

The Pacers fall to 1-2 in their current road trip with tonight’s loss and still somehow aren’t even halfway through it. They were unable to hang with a playoff caliber team hungry for a win tonight, but have no shortage of such tests the rest of the way. That will begin with a Friday night matchup against the Utah Jazz.

The Jazz and Pacers might be the two most surprising teams in the league to this point in the season, but Utah has come back to earth, losing their last five and eight of 10 after a 10-3 start. It’s a real bounce-back opportunity for Indiana, who has slipped to 2-3 in their last five, but have thus far avoided losing back-to-back games.