GAME RECAP: Pacers 119, Kings 105

T.J. Warren scores 23 points and grabs 4 rebounds as the Pacers beat the Kings 119-105.

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GAME RECAP: Pacers 119, Kings 105

T.J. Warren scores 23 points and grabs 4 rebounds as the Pacers beat the Kings 119-105.
Dec 20, 2019  |  00:01

Postgame: Pacers Locker Room - Dec. 20, 2019

December 20, 2019 - T.J. Warren, Doug McDermott, and Justin Holiday respond to the 119-105 victory over the Sacramento Kings, Friday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Dec 20, 2019  |  02:14

Warren Leads All Scorers With 23 Points in Win Over Kings

December 20, 2019 - T.J. Warren led all scorers with an efficient 23 points on 10-of-16 shooting (3-of-4 3PFG) in Indiana's 119-105 win over the Sacramento Kings on Friday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Dec 20, 2019  |  00:54

Turner Scores 17 in Win Over Sacramento

December 20, 2019 - Myles Turner scored 17 points (5-of-9 FG, 6-of-6 FT), pulled down three boards and registered two blocked shots in the Pacers 119-105 win over the Sacramento Kings on Friday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Dec 20, 2019  |  00:55

Sabonis Scores 15, Grabs Nine Rebounds in Win Against Sacramento

December 20, 2019 - Domantas Sabonis nearly reached another double-double in Friday night's 119-105 win against the Sacramento Kings at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, scoring 15 points and grabbing nine rebounds. Sabonis added six assists and two blocked shots while shooting 6-of-13 from the field.
Dec 20, 2019  |  00:52

Turner Finishes with the Left

Dec. 20, 2019 - Myles Turner plays through contact and gets creative with the finish, converting the and-one with his left hand.
Dec 20, 2019  |  00:07

Sabonis with the Dish

Dec. 20, 2019 - Domantas Sabonis electrifies the crowd with his pass to T.J. Warren for the layup.
Dec 20, 2019  |  00:05

McConnell Beats the Buzzer

Dec. 20, 2019 - T.J. McConnell hits the shot at the end of the first quarter.
Dec 20, 2019  |  00:09

Warren Spins and Scores

Dec. 20, 2019 - T.J. Warren shows off the moves on his way to the early bucket.
Dec 20, 2019  |  00:06

Pacers Roll Past King-Sized Trap

by Mark Montieth
Pacers.com Writer
@MarkMontieth

Trap games are those that fall through the cracks of the schedule, the ones that come after and before games against marquee opponents.

The Pacers' game against Sacramento on Friday was a textbook example. They were coming off a win over the Lakers on Tuesday that was widely regarded as their best of the season, one that drew the second capacity crowd at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. And now they are headed for games at Milwaukee on Sunday, at home against Toronto on Monday, and then at Miami next Friday, three teams ahead of them in the Eastern Conference standings.

Given that setting, their 119-105 victory over the Kings, which drew an audience only five fans from being the smallest of the season at The Fieldhouse, qualifies as another example of what has made the Pacers one of the surprise teams of the NBA so far.

They started slowly at the defensive end, hardly for the first time, but gathered momentum as they went. Despite a brief letdown spanning the end of the third period and beginning of the fourth they were in control from the midpoint of the second period and led by as many as 23 points.

And they did it the usual way:

  • They had balanced scoring, placing seven players in double figures with an eighth, Justin Holiday, scoring eight points.
  • They held the Kings under 50 percent shooting, something they've done to every opponent since Cleveland in the second game of the season. They also allowed just 11 fastbreak points, right at their average that ranks second in the NBA.
  • They moved the ball beautifully most of the game, as indicated by their assist total, 34, which in turn reflected accurate shooting. They hit better than 50 percent of their field goal attempts for the 10th time this season.
  • They only committed nine turnovers and hit 83 percent of their foul shots.

In other words, they gracefully sidestepped the lure of taking a losing team lightly.

"You can call it a trap game, but that's only if you make it one," said T.J. McConnell, who hit 7-of-8 shots on his way to 15 points and handed out eight assists. "I think the mindset of this team is we're not looking ahead. We're not riding on our high horse after we beat the Lakers. I think we did a good job of locking in tonight and closing out the game."

It all adds up to a five-game winning streak and a 20-9 record that puts the Pacers in fifth place in the Eastern Conference, just a half-game back of second-place Boston. It also brought their 20th victory before they played their 30th game, something they've done only seven times in their NBA history and not since the 2013-14 season.

Nate McMillan made a point of preaching the pitfalls of trap games beforehand and was satisfied with the response.

"I liked our effort again, collectively," he said. "Guys came and did their jobs."

The key words in that statement were (1) again and (2) collectively. It took a while, although only a short while, really, for McMillan's team to establish some chemistry, and the shooting hasn't always been as good as it was on Friday. But effort has not been an issue. Nor has balance or depth. Collectively, the Pacers are a difficult team to prepare for because of their multiple and varied weapons. Each of their starters has scored a least 25 points in a game this season and the four reserves who complete the playing rotation have become a consistently uplifting force.

The coach has to get credit when a team has played as well as the Pacers have since their 0-3 start, but ask around the locker room and two players are mentioned as well.

Malcolm Brogdon, Cory Joseph

Photo Credit: Matt Kryger

First and foremost is Malcolm Brogdon, the presidential point guard who is difficult to find to talk with after games because of his postgame routine but gets talked about a lot behind his back. Brogdon's stat line didn't stand out against Sacramento — 13 points, six rebounds, and six assists — but his intangibles always do, including those away from the games.

"He sets the tone for us every night," said Doug McDermott, who scored 13 points off the bench. "He's always making sure we're locked in before games.

"He's not messing around before the game. I sit right by him, and that's really helped me this year, locking in. To see a guy like him focusing on the game plan, asking questions, telling us stuff in shootaround, that sets the tone for everyone."

McConnell does the same for the second unit. He got a few extra minutes on Friday, 22 in all, because of the trickle-down impact of Jeremy Lamb's absence due to a strained groin, which in turn moved Aaron Holiday into the starting lineup. He made the most of them.

He scored the Pacers' final eight points of the first quarter to keep them within two points despite a poor defensive showing. He hit another shot and added five assists in the first nine minutes of the second period, when the Pacers outscored Sacramento, 38-25. He hit two more shots in the second half before missing his last attempt, a slightly forced and off-balance short jumper when the Pacers were in cruise control.

"It's kind of what I've done throughout my career," he said. "Be that sparkplug, come in and change the pace, change the energy in the game and in the building."

"He's like an injection," McMillan said. "We play faster, we get a little scrappier out there (when McConnell plays)."

Brogdon's example of preparation and McConnell's injection of adrenaline influence everyone else in the locker room, but perhaps nobody more than T.J. Warren, who scored 23 points on 10-of-16 shooting in 29 error-free minutes. Warren, playing with a bug that made him questionable to play in the game, is averaging 17.8 points on the season, down a bit from his previous two in Phoenix. But he's doing it on a winning team after five losing seasons in Phoenix, which is an entirely different matter.

"My first time on a winning team, just seeing the mentality of everybody in the locker room helps me lock in as well," he said.


Have a question for Mark? Want it to be on Pacers.com? Email him at askmontieth@gmail.com and you could be featured in his next mailbag.

Mark Montieth's book on the formation and groundbreaking seasons of the Pacers, "Reborn: The Pacers and the Return of Pro Basketball to Indianapolis," is available in bookstores throughout Indiana and on Amazon.com.

Note: The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Indiana Pacers. All opinions expressed by Mark Montieth are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Indiana Pacers, their partners, or sponsors.

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