Though the Indiana Pacers had to hold on for dear life in the closing minutes, they managed to snap their four game losing streak all the same, topping the Sacramento Kings at home. The Pacers, much like last night, led for a majority of the game, only to see their double figure lead quickly dissipate in the fourth.
They were able to change the outcome of tonight’s game on the defensive end, however, forcing the Kings into seven turnovers in the period in addition to a Myles Turner defensive showcase down the stretch, blocking two shots in the final three minutes. That mattered a lot especially given how putrid Indiana’s offense was, shooting just 7-19 and going completely scoreless for the final 2:55 of the game.
It was a bit of an out of sync game to begin with as neither team had much luck jumpstarting their offense. The Pacers led 28-27 after one, but both teams struggled to get above 40% shooting. After Sacramento got the better of Indiana early in the second, taking a 39-37 lead, the Pacers came out of a timeout on fire, connecting on four straight threes, three coming from Aaron Nesmith to push the Pacers out to a 10-point lead.
four straight threes gave us a double-digit lead— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) February 4, 2023
Aaron Nesmith and Buddy Hield combined for this 12-0 run. pic.twitter.com/iV3ecAauIR
Nesmith continued to play well until he picked up his third foul late in the half, opening the door for Sacramento make it a single digit game again. Tyrese Haliburton scored and assisted to Turner as a response, extending the lead back out to double figures at the break. The Kings opened the third with five points, but Turner got the Pacers on the board, taking it right at Domantas Sabonis for the first of seven third quarter points.
Myles Turner takes it right at the rim! pic.twitter.com/H2Cznb6Csj— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) February 4, 2023
The good times continued to roll in the third as the Pacers outscored the Kings 19-7 in that stretch, pushing their advantage to a game high 19 points with five minutes remaining in the third.
Too smooth with it. #Pacers— Bally Sports Indiana (@BallySportsIN) February 4, 2023
TV: Bally Sports Indiana
Stream: https://t.co/Xf2YgkKW1W pic.twitter.com/l1V8i3ScXb
That lead wouldn’t hold, however, as the Kings responded with 11 straight of their own to cut the lead to eight. T.J. McConnell stopped the bleeding by scoring six to close the third, but he proved Indiana’s entire offense down the stretch, allowing the Kings to climb to within five before Bennedict Mathurin closed the third with a layup.
Those two points came in handy, especially as the offense continued to struggle to open the fourth, allowing Sacramento make it a one-point game midway through the quarter, all after the Pacers had pushed the game back out to nine just a couple of minutes prior. Buddy Hield didn’t allow the Kings to take the lead, however, connecting on a triple courtesy of Andrew Nembhard, who then got the steal against Malik Monk, finding Haliburton on the outlet for the slam.
HALIBURTON THROWS IT DOWN— Bally Sports Indiana (@BallySportsIN) February 4, 2023
TV: Bally Sports Indiana
Stream: https://t.co/Xf2YgkKW1W#Pacers pic.twitter.com/mS57d8ImPS
There were just enough of those kinds of plays in the fourth to help bolster Indiana’s chances at winning, locking in a response each time the Kings got the game to a one-possession contest, getting beautiful possessions like this one, where three great passes found Hield for a huge slam.
Buddy Hield with the backdoor cut and hammers it home. pic.twitter.com/okj9qlWmWa— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) February 4, 2023
Nesmith scored the final points of the game for Indiana with 2:55 remaining, hitting a three pointer to put the Pacers back up by six at 107-101. The Pacers fought to close out the win, however, as Turner blocked Trey Lyles and Monk on separate possessions to prevent the Kings from more than three points in that stretch.
They did hit a three pointer, however, cutting the lead to three, and regained possession after Nembhard picked up a costly eight second violation. Nesmith forced the turnover against Monk and pulled in the rebound off of a Harrison Barnes miss. The clock just kind of wound down to finish it out at that point, a fitting end to a game that petered out offensively, in no small part due to Indiana’s efforts.
It proved to be a fairly evenly matched game overall between the two teams even as Sacramento was without De’Aaron Fox. The Pacers did make things easier on themselves by outscoring the Kings 28-17 in fast break points and connected on four extra threes, hitting 17 for the game.
Hield led the way with five makes, surpassing 200 threes on the season, leading the way with 21 points. Hield was on triple double watch in the first half, pulling in eight rebounds and six assists at halftime. The extracurricular stats diminished in the second half, but he still scored five crucial points in the fourth quarter, finishing with 10 rebounds for his third double double of the year.
It was important that Hield would be able to carry some of the scoring load tonight as Haliburton struggled in his second game back, scoring just 10 points with nine assists on 4-12 shooting. Though he did hit a pair of threes, it was a tough night for him scoring, but the Pacers did have a lot of balanced success, with all nine rotation players scoring at least six.
That includes eight points from Daniel Theis, who looked much more coherent in his second game, hitting a three and doing well to help limited Sabonis to just 15 points when Turner was out of the game. Turner, meanwhile, went toe to toe with his former teammate, scoring 14 points with 13 rebounds to Sabonis’s 16. Turner had four blocks and Sabonis had six assists, a fitting number for both.
Nesmith had another big game, scoring 17 points on 4-7 shooting from three, three of those of course coming in the 12-0 run in the second quarter. Foul trouble in the first half did disrupt him a bit, but much like Hield, it was quality over quantity in terms of makes late, connecting on the final points of the game, while also dishing three assists in the second half, finding McConnell for two of the six points to close the third. McConnell had eight overall.
Off the bench, Mathurin looked much more like himself, scoring 14 points and getting to the line six times. Indiana still wasn’t great getting to the free throw line, getting outscored by seven, but it was a nice performance from the rookie to shake off a very rough game against Los Angeles. Oshae Brissett continued to struggle scoring around the basket, but rounded out Indiana’s scoring with six, hitting a pair of threes.
The win nabs Indiana their 25th win of the season, matching their total from last year, though all that losing recently still has them looking up in the standings at 25-29. A lightning quick home stand will conclude on Sunday evening when the Pacers host the Cleveland Cavaliers at 5 p.m. Eastern.