Iman Shumpert was singing in the shower, Buddy Hield was cracking jokes and Bogdan Bogdanovic was smiling for the cameras.
Following two weeks of turmoil, the mood in the locker room changed late Saturday night after the Kings battled back to snap a three-game losing streak with a 111-110 victory over the Indiana Pacers before an announced sellout crowd of 17,583 at Golden 1 Center.
“It’s good to stop the bleeding a little bit and see if we can go on a little run here on this next road trip,” center Willie Cauley-Stein said of the Kings, who open the trip Tuesday at Phoenix. The stretch includes back-to-back games at Cleveland and Indiana on Friday and Saturday, and ends at Chicago on Dec. 10. “Any time you get a win, it relieves all the pressure.”
The Kings trailed the Pacers by one when point guard De’Aaron Fox drove inside for a well-contested floater. The ball bounced off the front of the rim, but Cauley-Stein was there for a two-handed putback dunk, giving Sacramento the lead with 16.1 seconds remaining.
“It’s one of those things like, ‘I need this, we need this and we need this win,’ so I was locked in on it,” Cauley-Stein said.
Bogdanovic came off the bench to score a team-high 20 points. Hield had 18 points. Cauley-Stein had 17 points and 13 rebounds.
The Kings had lost five of seven amid reports of internal conflict between coach Dave Joerger and at least one member of the front office. Yahoo Sports cited unnamed sources in a Nov. 17 story suggesting Joerger could lose his job over his handling of some of the team’s young players.
The Athletic reported that Joerger suspected assistant general manager Brandon Williams was a primary source for the Yahoo Sports story and that he believed Williams has been trying to replace him since last season. Then, as the Kings were preparing to play a nationally televised game against the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday, Joerger insisted Williams leave the team’s morning shoot-around.
Joerger was asked Saturday about how his players have handled the adversity.
“I would never say it’s good for anybody to have to go through that, but I think it’s a learning experience,” Joerger said. “I think a lot of great organizations, great families and great sports teams can be destroyed from within. I want to make sure we’re airtight and solid from the inside, and it’s been an opportunity for us to really grab on to each other.”
Joerger said those remarks were meant to convey that “we’re all moving forward together as a team,” not as a shot at anyone in the organization.
Oladipo out – Pacers guard Victor Oladipo did not play due to a knee injury. Oladipo, who averages 21.4 points, 6.6 rebounds and 4.7 assists, was previously listed as day-to-day, but his status was changed to “out indefinitely” on Friday.
The All-Star has missed the last seven games. The Kings could catch another break when they visit the Pacers on Dec. 8 if Oladipo doesn’t return to the lineup in the days ahead.
Over the past week, the Kings faced the Utah Jazz without Donovan Mitchell and the Golden State Warriors without Stephen Curry and Draymond Green, but they were unable to capitalize in either of those games.
Welcome back – Former Kings Tyreke Evans and Darren Collison were back in Sacramento as members of Indiana’s starting lineup.
Evans spent his first four seasons in Sacramento after the Kings selected him with the fourth pick in the 2009 draft. He was named NBA Rookie of the Year in the 2009-10 season after averaging 20.1 points, 5.8 assists and 5.3 rebounds per game. Evans had 12 points and four assists Saturday.
Collison spent three seasons in Sacramento from 2014-17. He averaged 16.1 points, a career high, and 5.6 assists in 2014-15. Collison finished with 11 points, 12 assists and six steals.
Jason Anderson: 916-321-1363, @JandersonSacBee