The team with the NBA’s first Indian owner had every opportunity to win the first NBA game ever played on Indian soil, but T.J. Warren had other ideas.
Warren made a 3-pointer to force overtime and finished with 30 points, leading the Indiana Pacers to a 132-131 victory over the Kings on Friday before a capacity crowd of 4,500 in the first of two preseason games at the NSCI Dome in Mumbai, India.
The game marked the first time a North American professional sports league has staged an event in India. It represented the NBA’s strongest push yet to penetrate a market with 1.3 billion people and served as a special homecoming for Kings owner Vivek Ranadive, who left his homeland as a teen to pursue his dreams in the United States.
“This is a historic day, but for me it’s a dream come true,” Ranadive told reporters in Mumbai. “I left Bombay when I was 17 years old and I literally had $50 in my pocket, so to come back here with my NBA team … is beyond my wildest, wildest imagination.”
NBA commissioner Adam Silver also addressed the media during a news conference before the game.
“Of course this is a landmark for the NBA in that it’s our first-ever game on Indian soil,” Silver said. “It’s been a long time in the works.”
Kings coach Luke Walton started De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Harrison Barnes, Marvin Bagley III and Dewayne Dedmon. The Kings got off to a hot start, making 7 of their first 8 shots, including their first three 3-point attempts.
The Kings led by as many as 21 in the first half and carried a 72-59 lead into the break after Yogi Ferrell made a three-quarters-court shot at the buzzer. Sacramento shot 58.5 percent from the field and made 10 of 17 (.588) from beyond the arc in the opening half.
The Pacers cut the deficit to four early in the third quarter and got within one on a three-point play by Warren. The Kings went up by nine on a basket by Hield midway through the fourth quarter, but Indiana staged another late run to tie the game on a corner 3-pointer by Warren with 7.8 seconds remaining.
“The play was drawn up for him, they executed it and T.J. finished it and put the ball in the basket,” Pacers coach Nate McMillan told reporters in India.
The Kings still had a chance to win in regulation, but Hield missed a 3-pointer as time expired. The Pacers led by five on a couple of occasions in overtime. Hield made a 3-pointer to tie the game with 1:19 to go, but big baskets by Warren and Domantas Sabonis helped the Pacers prevail.
Hield scored 28 points and Barnes added 21 to lead the Kings. Fox finished with 16 points and eight assists. Bogdan Bogdanovic and Nemanja Bjelica scored 14 points apiece off the bench. Bagley posted 12 points and five rebounds. Dedmon was held to three points and two rebounds in 18 minutes.
The Kings shot 48.9 percent from the field and made 15 of 36 from 3-point range, but they were outrebounded 47-30.
Sabonis had 21 points and 12 rebounds for the Pacers. Jeremy Lamb scored 20.
The Kings and Pacers will play again Saturday at 6:30 a.m. PDT.
“It was a great atmosphere and those kids will remember for the rest of their lives, us coming down here, playing the game of basketball at the highest level. It’s big time,” Hield said in a postgame news conference televised by NBA TV. “I enjoyed myself and I’m still enjoying myself here. The people of India are very welcoming and treat you with a lot of respect, so I’m happy to be here.”
Oct. 4: Indiana Pacers 132, Kings 131 (OT)
Oct. 5 vs. Indiana Pacers, 6:30 a.m. (India)
Oct. 10 vs. Phoenix Suns, 7 p.m.
Oct. 14 at Utah Jazz, 6 p.m.
Oct. 16 vs. Melbourne United, 7 p.m.
Inury report for Kings vs. Pacers
Kings: OUT—Harry Giles III (left knee soreness), Tyler Ulis (right groin strain).
Pacers: OUT—Victor Oladipo (right knee rehab), Goga Bitadze (right ankle sprain), T.J. Leaf (right quad strain), C.J. Wilcox (right quad strain), Naz Long (allergic reaction).