When the Kings get in a pinch late in games, the opposition knows what’s coming. The fans do, too.
The Kings are going to try to get the ball to DeMarcus Cousins.
But on nights like Friday, that can lead to turnovers. And to Cousins getting beaten up – especially against a physical team like the Indiana Pacers, which rallied to beat the Kings 115-111 in overtime at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
It was the second time in nine days the Kings blew a double-digit lead against the Pacers, and it ended a two-game winning streak.
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The Kings blew a 22-point lead to Indiana on Jan. 18 in Sacramento and led by 16 Friday.
Going to Cousins is understandable. He’s Sacramento’s best player. But the Kings (18-28) can rely on him too much. They fall into a habit of forcing the ball to Cousins, or getting him the ball and just watching him try to score.
That’s especially problematic late in games. And it was the case Friday, when the Pacers outscored the Kings 23-17 in the fourth quarter and 11-7 in overtime.
“Our turnovers tortured us again, giving up 19 turnovers for 25 points,” said Kings coach Dave Joerger.
Being predictable on offense contributes to those mistakes. It’s something that’s happened “over the course of the year,” said guard Ty Lawson.
“We try to go to the big fella,” Lawson said. “ ... We should run an action before, get everybody a touch and then go to him at like the 10-second mark on the shot clock. Because if we don’t do that, then they’re going to load up on him, trap him, and we (suffer) turnovers or we just have to rush the shots.”
Cousins had 26 points, 16 rebounds and five assists, but he also had six turnovers – after nine last week against Indiana.
“They’re aggressive with DeMarcus,” said forward Matt Barnes. “They play a smaller person on him and then front and back him and I think we try to force the ball to him too much. I think down the stretch we had a few turnovers trying to do that. We’ve got to make adjustments. We’ve got to have someone flash or something else because that wasn’t working.”
The Kings built their lead because they were hot from 3-point range, making 11 of 16 in the first half to take a 64-55 halftime lead. But the Kings made just 2 of 10 3-pointers in the second half and their pace slowed.
That helped Indiana (24-22) get more physical defensively.
Indiana outscored the Kings in the third and fourth quarter before Paul George’s jumper over Arron Afflalo with 35.4 seconds left in overtime put the Pacers ahead for good, 113-111.
George finished with a game-high 33 points.
“I think we just kind of slowed the game down a little bit,” said Kings guard Darren Collison. “We made it easier for them to see where we wanted to go. We were obviously trying to get the ball to Cuz ,but we probably should have been more aggressive on the weak side and not be so dominant on the strong side.”
Collison scored 26 points, and Lawson added 16 points and six assists off the bench. Cousins, after shooting 30 times in Wednesday’s win at Cleveland, Cousins attempted just 17 shots, the same as Collison.