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Kings blow big lead in loss

Published: Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014 - 12:02 am
Last Modified: Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014 - 11:45 pm

The Kings were 18.3 seconds away from their biggest upset of the season.

For more than 47 minutes, Sacramento had controlled the game and at times dominated the Indiana Pacers, who have the best record in the NBA.

Marcus Thornton was hot, Isaiah Thomas was clutch, and the Kings were on the verge of knocking off the Pacers while Sacramento’s two leading scorers, DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay, sat out with injuries.

But the Kings didn’t leave themselves enough of a cushion. With Sacramento leading 103-99, the Kings’ Derrick Williams was called for a foul on Paul George on a made 3-pointer. George made the free throw to tie the score, and in overtime, the Pacers had too much left and put away the Kings 116-111 Friday night at Sleep Train Arena.

The foul will be disputed by the Kings, but not publicly at risk of being fined by the NBA.

“I thought they called the grab,” Williams said. “I didn’t see if he was in the shooting motion. I haven’t seen the replay yet. I really can’t say too much. (The official) called it; (George) made a tough shot. The one thing I didn’t want to do is foul him in his shooting motion – that’s all I can say. It’s over with now.”

George also made the signature defensive stand in overtime, stealing the ball from Thomas with the Pacers up 114-111.

After securing the ball and being fouled, George walked down the court holding the ball and saying, “My ball!”

The ball belonged to two Kings for much of the night to put Sacramento in position to win. Thornton and Thomas matched their career highs with 42 and 38 points, respectively.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the 80 points were the most by a starting backcourt in Sacramento franchise history. Kings starting guards had combined for 71 points twice. But no other Sacramento player scored in double figures.

Kings coach Michael Malone declined to comment on Williams’ foul but said he was proud of how his team played.

“Huge four-point play to put it into overtime, and then they took over the overtime period,” Malone said. “ … Give him credit. (George) made a four-point play.”

While the Kings relied heavily on Thornton and Thomas, five Pacers scored in double figures, led by George with 36. Lance Stephenson had 24 points and 10 rebounds, and David West scored 22 points.

After struggling for most of the season, Thornton broke out in a big way.

He had scored 33 total points in nine games since the last time he scored in double figures. He had 12 points on Jan. 4 in a loss to Charlotte.

Thornton, who had made only 13 shots in his previous nine games, set a career high with 16 field goals. His previous best was 15 on Feb. 23, 2010, while playing for New Orleans at Cleveland.

Thornton had 22 points in the first quarter, a season high in a quarter for the Kings. Thornton’s hot start helped Sacramento lead by 17 points in the first half.

“When you have 43 points (per game) sitting on the sideline between Rudy and ‘Cuz,’ somebody has to step up,” Thornton said. “I took it upon myself to be that guy. It was a great team effort.”

Follow The Bee’s Jason Jones on Twitter @mr_jasonjones and read more about the team at kings.

Read more articles by Jason Jones

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