At the end of a winless four-game road trip, the Indiana Pacers lost an overtime heartbreaker Friday night.
The Pacers rallied from 17 points down in the third quarter to tie Sacramento late and force overtime, and were fractions of a second away from victory when Carl Landry dropped in a put-back basket with .8 seconds remaining for a 102-101 Kings win at Sleep Train Arena.
A David West desperation 3-pointer bounced off the backboard long. West verbalized his disgust at the Kings’ Reggie Evans after the buzzer. Replay of the game-deciding basket showed Evans shoved West out of the paint, which cleared a spot for Landry’s heroics.
“It’s as frustrating as any loss,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said in a postgame interview televised by Fox Sports. “You lose a game (like that), we won one that way (88-86 over Charlotte on Nov. 19), we lose one that way, it’s part of the long NBA season. You’re going to have some like that.
“I’m proud of how we competed down the stretch to make it a game when we were down. We weren’t really playing that well. But we showed a lot of fight late.”
Pacers reserve guard C.J. Watson hit his only 3-pointer and drove through two Kings to bank home an inside shot to give the Pacers their only five points in overtime and a 101-100 lead. It was Indiana’s only lead in the second half or overtime.
Kings leading scorer Rudy Gay hoisted a jumper that was long off the iron, but Landry had ideal position on the back side and scored as West swiped at the shot and missed.
Rodney Stuckey and West hit key shots in the final minutes of regulation to force the extra five minutes. Stuckey scored on a pull-up jumper with 1:10 remaining and then West hit a game-tying fade-away that struck iron, the backboard and iron again before dropping through with 28.1 seconds remaining.
Gay, who led all scorers with 27 points, missed a last-second shot in regulation. The Pacers had 4.9 seconds to try a game-winning shot, but an inbounds pass was off the mark and the ball bounced to West, who forced a deep fade-away that missed.
The Pacers (7-13) lost all four road games on the trip to drop to 3-8 away from Bankers Life Fieldhouse and 2-7 overall against Western Conference teams. The Kings (10-9) snapped a four-game losing streak, the last two at home.
Vogel said the Pacers’ defense is “a work in progress” and that they couldn’t “march a team to the free throw line” like in this game as the Kings made 28-of-40 foul shots to the Pacers’ 23-of-29.
Former Pacers point guard Darren Collison scored 20 for the Kings. Landry had 14 and seven rebounds.
The Pacers play four of their next five at home, beginning Monday against the Atlanta Hawks (12-6), who won their fifth consecutive game in a 98-75 Friday victory at Brooklyn.
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.