The Indiana Pacers faced a weakened opponent, but there was nothing soft and cushy about their Friday night at Sleep Train Arena. The Pacers needed a fourth-quarter comeback to force overtime against one of the worst teams in the Western Conference, defeating the Sacramento Kings 116-111. With 15.1 seconds remaining in regulation and the Kings ahead by four points, Indiana's Paul George rolled around a high screen and nailed 3-pointer while absorbing a foul. After George hit the free throw to send the game into overtime, the Pacers (34-8) held on with big shots and strong defense. In the extra session, George hit a pull-up jumper, then David West beat the shot clock with a 3-pointer that put the Pacers ahead by two points. Later, with 2:59 remaining, George Hill hustled for a steal then fed George for the fast-break dunk. During the Kings' last legitimate chance to get even with the Pacers, George once again stepped up but on the defensive end. George ripped the ball from point guard Isaiah Thomas, then secured the game with two free throws. George scored eight in overtime and finished with 36 points while Lance Stephenson added 24 and West scored 22. With starters DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay out with injuries, the backcourt of Marcus Thornton and Thomas provided enough firepower for the Kings (15-27). With 1:28 remaining, Thomas burned the Pacers with a 3-pointer that gave the Kings the 100-97 lead, he then hit late free throws to extend the lead to four points. Thornton matched his career-high with 42 points while Thomas poured in 38. Before the matchup, West warned that the Kings would be a "dangerous team." Still, who could have suspected that Thornton would pose the biggest threat to the Pacers' defense? Thornton has slumped through January; only a 12-point performance against Charlotte (Jan. 4) stood as his best scoring night for the month. He had not reached the 20-point plateau since early December, but on Friday night, Thornton ripped the Pacers for 26 points through the first half. When Thornton wasn't scoring, Thomas led the pick-and-roll attack, often penetrating and getting open looks close to the rim. It looked like a sequel to the game two nights earlier in Phoenix, when Indiana allowed 124 points – the most by a Pacer team with Frank Vogel as head coach. And for the second straight game, the defense surrendered at least 60 points in the first half. During a halftime interview with Fox Sports Indiana, assistant coach Dan Burke told the viewing audience that the Pacers needed to get angry. However, players had already displayed that emotion — George picked up a technical foul for complaining about non-calls before halftime and Stephenson got into a brief confrontation with Sacramento's Quincy Acy.
Pacers rally to top Kings in overtime
Indianapolis Star | Jan 25