The Indiana Pacers defeated the Sacramento Kings 126-121 last night in a closely contested game that came down to the final possessions. The Pacers were powered by standout rookie performances from Bennedict Mathurin and Andrew Nembhard, while the Kings mounted a late comeback that fell just short.
Pacers Integrate New Players While Missing Stars
The Pacers came into the game shorthanded, missing recently acquired star Pascal Siakam as well as guard Tyrese Haliburton. However, Indiana got boosts from several new faces.
“It was great to see our young guys step up,” said Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle. “Bennedict and Andrew hit some big shots, and the veterans really helped them settle in.”
Mathurin ended up leading Indiana with 25 points, while Nembhard added a career-high 21 points off the bench. Myles Turner also chipped in with 16 points.
“I just wanted to come out aggressive and help the team any way I could,” Mathurin said after the game. “It’s exciting to have an opportunity early in my career to make an impact.”
Kings Stage Furious Rally Behind Sabonis and Murray
On the other side, former Pacer Domantas Sabonis led the Kings with 25 points, while rookie standout Keegan Murray scored 18. Sacramento stormed back from a 15-point fourth quarter deficit behind the All-Star tandem.
“We showed a lot of fight being down and coming back,” Murray commented. “Domantas was huge during that stretch.”
The Kings eventually tied the game with two minutes left on a Malik Monk three pointer. However, clutch baskets from Turner and TJ McConnell allowed Indiana to escape with the win.
“It felt like we had all the momentum,” Sabonis said. “But Indiana just seemed to make every big play late.”
What This Means Moving Forward
The victory snaps a three-game losing streak for the Pacers, bringing their record to 24-21. Indiana currently sits seventh in the crowded Eastern Conference playoff race.
“Getting this win was crucial given how tight the East is,” Carlisle noted. “Our young players are growing quickly and veteran leadership has been great.”
The scrappy performance also demonstrated the Pacers’ ability to compete while missing key players like Siakam and Haliburton. Both stars are hoping to return shortly.
For Sacramento, the loss drops them to 19-27, tied for 12th in the Western Conference. While the Kings are improved from past seasons, they still face an uphill battle to qualify for the postseason.
“If we bring that type of effort every night, I think we can surprise some teams,” Murray said. “But we have to build on this and learn how to close.”
The Kings and Pacers won’t have to wait long for a rematch. The two teams will face off again on February 2nd in Sacramento.
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The Pacers were more efficient from the field and from three while committing fewer turnovers. However, Sacramento dominated rebounding and dished out more assists in the loss.
While this thriller capped off an eventful night in the NBA, there remains plenty of drama still to come. The Pacers expect to have both Siakam and Haliburton back very soon, adding more firepower to an already feisty rotation. Indiana will be looking to build momentum heading towards the All-Star break.
For the Kings, the focus shifts to improving defensive consistency and closing out games. Developing winning habits, even in defeat, will be crucial if Sacramento hopes to capture that final playoff spot out West.
No matter what lies ahead, last night proved once again that surprises happen every night in the NBA. With young talent shining bright and veterans guiding the way, both the Pacers and Kings appear headed in the right direction.
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