In the waning moments of regulation, the Sacramento Kings held a comfortable 103-99 lead over the Indiana Pacers. Then, Paul George did what MVP candidates usually do.
He made a play. A four-point play to be exact.
With 18.3 seconds remaining, George sunk a three from the right wing while drawing a foul on Kings forward Derrick Williams. From that point on, momentum seemed to shift the way of the Pacers, who went on in overtime to defeat the Kings 116-111 on Friday night.
“I’ll give them credit,” Kings head coach Michael Malone said after the game. “I mean, Paul George had a four-point play at the end (of regulation). David West hit a huge three (to open overtime). When we defend the way that we did tonight, then I can’t ask a whole lot more than I did from our guys tonight.”
The Pacers trailed the Kings for much of the evening. They fell behind by as many as 17 points before they made their move in the second half, limiting the Kings to score just 43 points on 29.2-percent shooting from the field. George scored 17 of his team-high 36 points in the fourth quarter and overtime periods combined.
The Pacers’ comeback put a damper on a comeback night for Marcus Thornton. With stars DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay sidelined to injury, Thornton found his rhythm on offense and matched a career-high 42 points.
Thornton came into tonight’s game averaging a career low 7.3 points per night and had scored just a total of 33 points in the last nine games. Friday, he came out of the gates scorching, scoring 22 of his 42 points in the opening quarter alone.
“When you have 43 points sitting on the sideline between Rudy and Cuz, somebody had to step up,” Thornton said. “I took it upon myself to be that guy. It was great team effort by the whole team.”
Isaiah Thomas also played big for the Kings in the loss. The Kings starting point guard scored 21 of a career-high matching 38 points in the second half.
The loss brings the Kings’ record to 15-27 overall and 9-14 at home. They have Saturday off before returning to action on Sunday against the Denver Nuggets.
Notes and Analysis
- With Cousins and Gay sidelined with injury, Thornton put on a show tonight in front of a sold out Sleep Train Arena crowd. The 26-year old guard scored 22 of his career-high-tying 42 points in a wild first quarter. He shot 16-for-27 from the field overall and 7-for-15 from deep in 42 minutes of play.
- Isaiah Thomas tried to will the Kings to victory, finishing with 38 points on 13-of 31 shooting. After a big 12-point fourth quarter by Thomas, the Pacers did their best to shut him down in the overtime. If there is one knock on Thomas tonight (besides 31 shot attempts), it is that he wasn’t able to get his teammates involved nearly enough. The Kings starting point guard finished with six assists, but only he and Thornton finished a 53 minute game in double figures.
- With Cousins gone, the lane was opened up for Jason Thompson. Unfortunately, this was not JT’s night. He finished with just one point on 0-of-8 shooting and fouled out in the final minute of regulation. On the plus side, Thompson grabbed 10 rebounds, but the Kings needed a lot more tonight out of their starting power forward.
- Derrick Williams grabbed double digit rebounds for a second straight game, but like Thompson, he left you wanting more. Williams shot 2-for-9 from the field and 3-for-7 from the line on his way to seven points in 34 minutes.
- Coach Malone specifically said during pre-game that he wouldn’t play Carl Landry 25 minutes tonight. And then he played him 26 minutes. Landry is rusty, but you can instantly see how he is going to help this team. The veteran forward scored five points and grabbed nine rebounds in his home debut with the Kings.
- Jimmer Fredette had a productive stint in the first half, scoring all five of his points in a six minute burst in the second quarter. But the Pacers turned up the defense after intermission and Jimmer looked outmatched. In four minutes of fourth quarter play, Jimmer turned the ball over three times and missed both of his field goal attempts. He has to take better care of the ball when running the second unit.
- Stat of the Night: Thornton and Thomas scored a combined 80 points tonight, most points by a Kings backcourt in Sacramento era history according to the Elias Sports Bureau. No other Kings scored in double figures.
Quote of the Game
Malone on his backcourt combining to score 80 points:
“I told Marcus Thornton tonight, I said listen, I don’t care if you miss every shot that you take but I’m going to be pissed off if you don’t shoot the ball tonight. I needed him to be aggressive. I didn’t care if he missed four or five in a row, as long as they were big shots. Obviously, he scored 22 in that first quarter and got us going. Then it was great for him to finish with 42 and Isaiah Thomas with 38. Everyone was wondering how we were going to make up for the loss of Rudy Gay and DeMarcus Cousins—those two made up for it. It was a great night for them. I can’t expect them to score 80 points every night without our other players, but we need those guys to be aggressive and efficient.”
Video shot and edited by Kimani David.