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  • Michael Conroy / The Associated Press

    The Kings’ DeMarcus Cousins, who finished with 31 points and 13 rebounds, runs into the Pacers’ Roy Hibbert.

  • Michael Conroy / The Associated Press

    The Pacers’ Paul George shoots over the Kings’ DeMarcus Cousins. George led five Indiana players in double figures with 31 points and made a 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter that halted the Kings’ momentum.

Kings can’t contain powerful Pacers

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014 - 9:53 pm
Last Modified: Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014 - 7:24 am

It’s the details of the game that often separate the good teams from the bad ones.

In a matter of seconds Tuesday night, the Kings went from poised to make a run in the fourth quarter to crumbling late.

Marcus Thornton made a 3-pointer with 3.2 seconds left in the third quarter to cut the Indiana Pacers’ lead to nine. But Paul George, the Pacers’ All-Star forward, banked in a 25-foot 3-pointer before the end of the quarter to push the lead back to double digits.

“Even though it was just 12, I felt like that 12-point lead was more like 20,” Kings coach Michael Malone said.

The Pacers then ran away in the fourth quarter for a 116-92 victory at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, ending the Kings’ season-best winning streak at three games.

Indiana (30-7) also clinched the best record for games played through Feb. 2, meaning its coaching staff will direct the Eastern Conference All-Star team Feb. 16 in New Orleans.

George’s shot summed up the night for the Kings (13-23). The Pacers did whatever they wanted for most of the game.

“Marcus came down and hit a big shot, but at the same time just because we made that, it didn’t mean the quarter was over or that it was time to stop playing,” DeMarcus Cousins said. “And (George) came down and got an easy, good look ... .

“We can’t have plays like that. Just because it’s the end of the quarter, we can’t stop playing. We can’t stop until we have the defensive rebound or the buzzer goes off. That’s a mistake on us.”

Malone didn’t praise the Kings’ defense, as he had during the winning streak. Indiana had season highs in points, points in a quarter (34 in the second), points in a half (59 in the first) and shooting (54.9 percent).

“They were able to kind of get what they wanted,” Malone said. “Whether it’s Roy Hibbert shooting uncontested shots, David West in the post, Paul George scoring over 30. They’re a very good basketball team with a lot of weapons, and we have to learn from it, obviously.”

The Kings also hurt themselves by committing turnovers that allowed a halfcourt team to get easy scores in transition. They gave up 22 points off 15 turnovers, including 17 off 12 turnovers in the first half.

“It’s already hard to beat in some people’s opinion the best team in the NBA,” Cousins said. “But when you give them ammo as well, it’s going to make your job and that game that much harder.”

Facing one of the NBA’s best defensive teams, Cousins continued his run of dominance. He finished with 31 points and 13 rebounds, his 11th consecutive double double. It’s the second-longest streak in Sacramento history, surpassing the 10 Chris Webber had in the 2002-03 season. LaSalle Thompson set the record of 13 consecutive double doubles during the 1985-86 season.

Cousins also has the longest active double-double streak in the league. Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul and Minnesota power forward Kevin Love had streaks of 13 this season.

Cousins had 19 points and 10 rebounds in the third quarter as the Kings tried to rally. But that wasn’t enough, and Cousins sat out the fourth quarter as the game quickly got out of reach for the Kings.

The problem for the Kings was aside from Cousins, no other player could get going. Rudy Gay had 12 points and was the only other King to score in double figures. Isaiah Thomas had seven points and one assist.

Indiana (30-7) had five players score in double figures, led by George’s 31.

For Malone, success goes back to taking care of details, especially on defense.

“I reminded our guys to win in the NBA consistently you have to defend,” Malone said. “We defended for three games and we won. (Tuesday) we gave up 116 points, over 50 percent from the field, we didn’t defend anybody and we got our butts kicked because of it.”

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