SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The Indiana Pacers trailed the Sacramento Kings 103-99 with 18 seconds left to play Friday night when they called timeout to draw up a play.
Pacers coach Frank Vogel was looking for a quick 3-point basket from All-Star game starting forward Paul George. George did even better, producing a four-point play and forcing overtime. Then he scored eight of his 36 points in the extra frame, leading the Pacers to a 116-111 victory over the Kings.
“You hit a shot like that, you have to have the momentum going into overtime,” George said. “That’s what we do so well is finish and close games out.”
George took an inbounds pass, drilled a 3-point shot from the right wing, drew a foul from Kings forward Derrick Williams and made his free throw with 15 seconds left. Kings guard Isaiah Thomas missed an 18-foot jumper under pressure and the game went to overtime.
George has made plenty of miraculous plays in his career but never a four-point play to force overtime.
“That will be the first one on my bucket list,” George said, smiling. “I practice shots like that. So that was just a normal shot I felt like, but I did feel like I got hit and got pushed from behind.”
Guard Marcus Thornton scored a career-high tying 42 points and guard Isaiah Thomas added 38 for the Kings (15-27), matching his career high.
“Tough loss man, tough loss,” Thornton said. “The plays we needed to execute we didn’t. They came up with the big stops. We did a lot in that game to win the game, so it’s tough.”
Pacers guard Lance Stephenson had 24 points and 10 rebounds. Forward David West scored 22 points and center Roy Hibbert had 11 rebounds and 10 points for Indiana (34-8).
The Kings played without two injured starters, center DeMarcus Cousins (sprained right ankle) and small forward Rudy Gay (strained left Achilles) — who were hurt Wednesday night against Houston. Cousins averages 22.6 points and 11.6 rebounds — both team highs — and Gay averages 19.8 points and 6.0 rebounds.
Aaron Gray started for Cousins, and Williams started for Gay.
“I’m very proud,” Kings coach Michael Malone said. “Our guys came out and played their hearts out and they put themselves in a position to win the game. It was a game we should have won. I couldn’t be more proud of everyone who played tonight. This shows you a lot about our team.”
In overtime, West hit a 3-point shot, putting the Pacers up 108-106 with 3:56 left. After a Kings turnover, George extended Indiana’s lead to 110-106, capping a fast break with an emphatic dunk.
The Kings pulled to 112-111 on Thomas’ jump shot with 1:38 left, but Stephenson scored from close range, giving Indiana a 114-11 lead with 1:20 left. The Kings turned the ball over twice and George made two free throws, extending Indiana’s lead to 116-111 with 12 seconds left.
The Pacers were coming off a 124-100 road loss on Wednesday night to Phoenix, their worst defeat of the season, and narrowly avoided just their second two-game losing streak.
That surprising loss to the Suns, who made 11 of 16 3-point shots, had the Pacers ready for anything from the undermanned Kings.
“We didn’t overlook them,” Hibbert said. “We lost to Phoenix. this was like a comeback game for us. We didn’t take this team lightly. We went out there and played our hearts out. Guys made big shots.”
Thornton quickly filled the Kings’ offensive void when the game began, scoring 26 points in the first half and lifting Sacramento to a 60-50 lead. Thomas added 13 first-half points.
NOTES: Kings C DeMarcus Cousins (sprained left ankle) and F Rudy Gay (strained left Achilles tendon) did not play against Indiana and, according to coach Michael Malone, might miss at least one more game. “It’s honestly too early to tell,” Malone said before the game. “I know DeMarcus is dying to play. The good thing is both MRIs didn’t reveal anything to us serious. So I’m hoping (they return) in the next day or so, but it could be a couple games. We’ll have to re-evaluate it tomorrow with our training staff and see what they’re saying.” … Despite his team’s injuries, Malone said he still planned to “slowly increase” backup F Carl Landry’s playing time as he continues his comeback from a torn left hip flexor muscle. Landry appeared in just his third game this season Friday. … Pacers F Paul George appeared in his first game since being voted a starter for the Eastern Conference in the NBA All-Star game and being named in the pool of 28 players for the U.S. men’s basketball national team. “Couldn’t be more proud,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said.
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