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SACRAMENTO -- It didn’t come easy but Sacramento (10-9) will take the 102-101 overtime win over Indiana (7-13) on Friday night.
The Kings were without DeMarcus Cousins, who was out for the fourth consecutive game with a viral infection.
“It’s the first time that we’ve won without him, between last year and this year,” said second year Kings coach Michael Malone on his 1-14 record without Cousins on the floor. “I hope that this gives us a little bit of confidence.”
“Yes, he’s a great player and when we have him we’re a dangerous team, but we have to find ways to win when anybody gets hurt.”
[INSTANT REPLAY: Rudy Gay powers Kings to overtime win over Pacers]
Sacramento had blown leads of 26 and 24 points on the road at Memphis and Dallas, respectively, earlier in the season, and it looked like a 17-point lead at Sleep Train Arena was about to be squandered as well.
The Kings scored the first four points of the extra session but CJ Watson responded with five straight for the visitors making it 101-100 in favor of the Pacers with 1:03 left to play.
After the teams traded empty possessions, the stage was set for Sacramento’s last possession with 14.1 seconds remaining.
The ensuing play featured a Rudy Gay missed jumper but it was an opportunistic Carl Landry who grabbed the rebound and deposited the put back, giving the lead back to Sacramento at 102-101 with .8 seconds left in OT.
Flashbacks to the November 13 Grizzlies’ improbable win over the Kings in Memphis with .3 seconds to play via an inbounds pass from Vince Carter to Courtney Lee for a lay in were erased when David West’s contested fade away jumper missed and the buzzer sounded.
With the win Sacramento snapped a four-game losing streak, including dropping two games at home.
“Man, we need this win – however we got it didn’t matter, we just need this win,” said the game’s high scorer Rudy Gay who had 27 points. “We need momentum. There were times where we reverted back to being the team that lost four games but we got it together and it’s about time.”
For Landry, who finished with 14 points on the night, it was the first game-winner for the veteran in his eighth year in the NBA.
“He deserves it,” said point guard Darren Collison who contributed 20 points, six assists and six rebounds in the victory.
“The fact that he was just in the game at the time, just have him and Reggie (Evans) for the offensive rebound, and Carl was able to get the ball and put it back up was pretty good strategy when Jason Thompson fouled out.”
Thompson, who just missed a double-double, scored nine points to go with 10 rebounds and albeit with help hold West to just two points in the first half.
However, West asserted himself in the second half, ultimately leading the Pacers with 16 points including two via a jumper with 16.6 seconds to go that tied the game at 96 to force overtime.
“David is a load and so is Roy Hibbert, (nine points and seven rebounds) so I give a lot of credit to our bigs,” commented Malone. “Jason Thompson, Carl Landry, Reggie Evans, and Ryan Hollins — all of them really manned up and really battled in the paint.”
The coach lauded the Kings defense and also acknowledged the glass as another key factor for his squad.
“I love the fact that we won and the fact that our defense was much, much better tonight, and that we outrebounded one of the best rebounding teams in the NBA,” said Malone. “We held them to 37 percent and only gave up nine offensive rebounds, which was tremendous.”
The Kings finished the deal sans Cousins.
Simply put: Without rebounding, the Kings do not finish off the Pacers.
The Kings entered the game leading the NBA in rebound margin and outrebounded the Pacers by six without the league’s leading rebounder in Cousins.
Indiana is no slouch on the glass averaging plus-12 in rebound margin in its seven wins and entered Friday night second overall in rebounding and third in second chance points in the NBA.
The inability to leverage a 17-point lead in your own building and put the Pacers away in regulation.
Although it was a struggle, the Kings got the job done without Cousins — an indicator of Sacramento’s resilience and maturation.
“It was a heck of a win and I’m proud of our guys because we didn’t just feel sorry for ourselves,” said Malone. “We found a way to win in overtime.”
“I’m really happy because guys were hanging their head a little bit when we didn’t close the game in regulation, but we came out and held them to 2-of-7 in overtime. We defended at a high level.”