Pacers forward Domantas Sabonis tries to defend a Kings player.
SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 11: Richaun Holmes #22 of the Sacramento Kings is guarded by Domantas Sabonis #11 of the Indiana Pacers at Golden 1 Center on January 11, 2021 in Sacramento, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Defense Dooms Pacers In Loss To Kings

INDIANAPOLIS – On paper, the Pacers ‘easiest’ game on their 5-game western road trip saw another poor defensive effort lead to a loss.

It was the defensive end of the floor that sent the Pacers (6-4) to a loss, with the Kings (5-6) making the key plays late in 127-122 victory over Indiana on Monday night.

For a second straight game, the Pacers allowed their most points of the season.

Despite the Kings having lost 5 of 6 games, they shot 56 percent and reached 30 points in each of the four quarters.

The Pacers have now lost back-to-back games for the first time since last February (when they lost 6 straight).

Domantas Sabonis led Indiana with 28 points and 11 rebounds. Malcolm Brogdon (24 points) was one of four Pacers to reach 20 points.

A back-and-forth game almost had the Pacers taking a 119-118 lead with 1:27 to go on a Sabonis layup. But an overrule stated that Kings forward Richaun Holmes actually blocked the Sabonis’ attempt, so that maintained the Kings 1-point lead. On the ensuing two possessions, Buddy Hield made a corner three off a scrambled sequence and De’Aaron Fox iced the game with a dunk.

Nate Bjorkgren made a change in the starting lineup on Monday, inserting veteran Justin Holiday for his brother, Aaron, with Indiana looking to find a more consistent level of play since T.J. Warren has been out. Neither Holiday brother found a great rhythm in the new roles, but Doug McDermott did score 21 points on 8-of-10 shooting off the bench.

The Kings outrebounded Indiana by 7, even though they were the better shooting team.

Harrison Barnes led Sacramento with 30 points.

The Pacers will have a back-to-back on Tuesday night, taking on the Warriors (6-4).

Three Things Learned

1. Victor’s Start: The Victor Oladipo we’ve seen now 10 games into the season has looked like a more explosive player willing to attack. But the streaky jumper and inconsistent ball handling has been there as of late, too. Oladipo was the go-to guy for stretches in the 4th on Monday, but his loose handle and 2-of-11 effort behind the arc couldn’t keep up with the Kings backcourt. Again, there’s been some promising moments from the Oladipo we’ve seen, but also a few other areas holding him back from being that true No. 1 option. Oladipo seemed a bit hesitant in committing himself to playing on Tuesday’s back-to-back, something he has not done since returning last January.

2. McDermott Finishes Game: Something about those road games that brings out the best in Doug McDermott. The veteran was outstanding on Monday, scoring 21 points, despite in going 8-of-10 from the floor and 3-of-5 from behind thearc. When the hiring of Nate Bjorkgren was made, many thought McDermott would be a beneficiary based on his long distance shooting. But McDermott has also found great success in this new system, thanks to terrific off ball movement and using his strength as a shooter to attack the basket. The two-man game between McDermott and Domantas Sabonis was a key weapon for the Pacers on Monday.

3. COVID Issues: So far, so good. Now 10 games into the 2020-21 season, the Pacers have yet to have a player miss a game due to COVID-19. With the NBA dealing with several teams battling COVID-19 problems currently, there’s yet to be a schedule change for the Pacers, too. Of course, with the Pacers on by far their longest road trip of the first half of the season, this will test some things. While the NBA had great success in the Orlando bubble, what they are trying to pull off in a rather normal regular season schedule presents more challenges than MLB (longer season, more travel) or the NFL (much longer season, and much more travel). T.J. McConnell remains back in Indiana following the birth of his first child.

Pacers Upcoming Schedule

-@Warriors (Tuesday, 1-12 at 10:30 PM)

-@Trailblazers (Thursday, 1-14, at 10:00 PM)

-@Suns (Saturday, 1-16, at 9:00 PM)

-@Clippers (Sunday, 1-7, at 10:00 PM)

-Mavericks (Wednesday, 1-20, at 7:00 PM)

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