An NBA season which sure seems like it’s stumbling to the finish reached another low point Saturday night, when the Indiana Pacers sputtered at home in a 99-94 loss to the Sacramento Kings at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
The Kings had lost eight consecutive games. The Pacers thought they were going to be able to build off a Thursday home win over the New York Knicks.
Instead, the Pacers lost for the second time in three games on their home court, and this one was particularly discouraging considering the Kings’ recent struggles and overall record. Sacramento improved to 17-29 while the Pacers dropped to 17-32.
The final score suggests the game was close, but the Kings dominated for three quarters until the Pacers tried to rally late to no avail.
Rudy Gay scored a game-high 31 points, former Pacers guard Darren Collison had 23 and DeMarcus Cousins 20. Each had more points than any of the Pacers. Cousins also grabbed a game-high 19 rebounds.
The Kings’ top three scorers outscored the Pacers’ entire starting five 74-38. Gay hit 10-of-22 shots as well as all 11 foul shots. Collision made 9-of-15 shots.
The Kings led 34-21 after the first quarter, 64-50 at halftime and 79-67 entering the final quarter. The Pacers reduced the margin to four points at 95-91 and got a backcourt turnover but C.J. Miles missed an open 3-pointer.
That was it. Sacramento closed it out as Collison made two foul shots with 8.5 seconds remaining. George Hill hit a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 97-94 with 6 seconds left, but Gay was fouled and hit both free throws.
The Pacers again struggled shooting the basketball in what has been a season-long trend. They were particularly ineffective from 3-point range, making just 5-of-25 shots (20 percent). Overall, they were 33-of-80 (41 percent).
Pacers shooting guard Rodney Stuckey, who was coming off back-to-back games with a team-high 22 points, had just two points on 1-of-5 shooting. Forward Solomon Hill failed to score a single point, missing three shots in 25:38 of playing time.
The Kings shot 43 percent (34-of-80), including 5-of-15 (33 percent) on 3-pointers. They edged the Pacers at the line with 26-of-29 foul shots to Indiana’s 23-of-25.
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.