PacersrecaP #21: Kings crush Pacers in Haliburton’s first return to Sacramento

The Pacers played a game last night. It did not go well. The Sacramento Kings played with desperation after losing three straight and the Indiana Pacers did not match that level of effort as they were dominated throughout the game and lost by a final score of 137-114.

Tyrese Haliburton made his first return to Sacramento since the trade and received a standing ovation and loud cheers during his introduction and then Buddy Hield immediately received boos as the next player introduced and continued to be booed whenever he touched the ball in the first quarter.

Hield had a great reaction post-game to the boos, “I don’t give a [expletive]. I go to sleep happy and make a lot of money.”

Rick Carlisle said that the blame for the embarrassing loss is on him for this one as he didn’t get the team prepared and ready for what they were going to face with the Kings team looking to end a 3-game losing streak.

React to this Kings destruction of the Pacers as much as you want. It’s silly to put too much stock into it as far as the trade goes. The Pacers (12-9) aren’t supposed to have a better record than the Kings (11-9) this year and it was always a long term move for Indiana. For the Kings, this is the first time they’ve been over .500 this far into the season in a long time as they look to end the longest playoff drought in league history. Right now, both teams are way more fun than they were before the trade and you can’t say either team regrets the deal. It’s certainly hard to see the Pacers ever regretting it.

It has not been a good start to the long road trip for the Pacers who without an impressive comeback in the fourth quarter against the Lakers would be staring at three straight blowout losses with each one worse than the last. The Pacers play the surprising Utah Jazz next so the schedule doesn’t get any easier any time soon.

1. Jalen Smith was having the game of his life before getting elbowed in the face.

Stix was about the only thing going right for the Pacers in the third quarter as the Kings put up 44 points. Smith scored 18 of his 22 points in the third quarter and did a ton of damage as the lone big on the floor with four guards. He went 8 for 10 from the field and 4 for 5 from deep on the night. He was on fire and the only positive takeaway for a long stretch so of course he would get elbowed directly in the face by Malik Monk on a drive. The play was bizarrely but correctly called an offensive foul about four seconds after it happened and then upon review was ruled a flagrant foul. Smith had gone back to the locker room with a facial contusion and couldn’t take the free throws. He would not have been able to return to the game anyway and Rick Carlisle said that they don’t know enough yet but hoping that it’s not a concussion.

2. Bennedict Mathurin gets back to the line in a big way

After getting zero free throws in his last two games for the first time in his career, Mathurin did a lot of work driving to the basket and forcing calls in this one. He made 10 of 11 free throw attempts on his way to 22 points. He struggled with his jump shot in this one (6 for 17) like everyone in a Pacers uniform not named Jalen Smith but it was good to see the rookie earn some whistles with his aggressive drives to the basket. He’s still got plenty of development to do with his handle but that’s part of what makes him so intriguing. If he’s averaging nearly 20 points per game as a rookie coming off the bench with a suspect handle, what’s he going to look like in a few years when he’s honed some of those weaknesses?

3. Emotionally charged night falls short for many

Tyrese Haliburton struggled playing against his former team as he made just 4 of 13 shots for 9 points and was unable to get to the free throw line despite drawing contact. Clearly frustrated and earning a technical at one point, Haliburton just couldn’t get much going in this one. He didn’t play the fourth quarter with the game out of hand but did manage 10 assists. He had his first two turnovers in the last four games which put him at a still ridiculous 25:1 assist:turnover ratio. His tough floaters didn’t fall and his 3-point shooting slump continued as he missed even the good looks he had from deep. This was his only made 3-pointer in six attempts.

Myles Turner had perhaps the worst game of his career that didn’t involve foul trouble in his first matchup against former teammate Domas Sabonis. Sabonis wasn’t guarding him as the Kings cross matched with Sabonis on Jalen Smith but Turner scored just four points on 9 shot attempts over 28 minutes. He was forcing too much trying to get himself going in the third quarter with awkward drives to the rim and forced contested jump shots and ended up being benched for Mathurin as the Stix and the four guards lineup  lit the Kings defense on fire before Stix got elbowed out of the game. It was an unfortunately classic Myles performance in a game with a little extra emotion involved where he underwhelms completely. A bummer of an ending to the best month of Turner’s professional career where he averaged 18.1 points and 8.6 rebounds while having shooting splits of 56.4/40/79.7. 

After Turner returned to the game once Smith went out with injury, he missed two consecutive free months which gave the Kings crowd free cookies and the Kings ended any semblance of momentum the Pacers had gained with Smith’s hot streak and quickly pushed the lead back to 21. Turner was a team-worst -33 while on the court last night. He did have 3 blocks and generally played well to start the game defensively.

Buddy Hield hit 6 of 10 shots after struggling initially at 0 for 3 while being booed every time he touched the ball. He embraced the role of villain a bit and left his goose neck up long after a couple made threes and openly looked toward the crowd at times. He was one of only three Pacers to score in double figures in this one and was the only one of these three that played reasonably close to his usual standards.

Stray Observations:

  • Domas did Domas things in this one. Led his team in assists with 7 while stuffing the box score with 11 points and 10 rebounds in just 23 minutes. He struggled with foul trouble a bit in this one and was shocked at every foul call that went against him. He made awesome passes while leading the Kings in transition and from the high post. The Pacers really got killed by the De’Aaron Fox, Harrison Barnes, and Malik Monk trio who all efficiently crushed the Pacers defense. Fox scored 19 on 11 shots, Monk scored 20 on 9 shots, and Barnes scored 20 on 9 shots. They were all very good and the Pacers defense didn’t have answers for any of them or really the Kings roster as a whole.
  • The Pacers shot just 32% in the first half making just 8 of 25 shots in each of the first two quarters. It was likely the worst offensive performance of the season. They managed to reach 40% by game’s end thanks to Smith’s hot shooting third quarter and some garbage time buckets from Goga Bitadze and Oshae Brissett.
  • Isaiah Jackson really struggled in this one. He missed four layups in the first half that were not terribly difficult looks and missed another where it could have been an and-1 opportunity. He just didn’t seem to be playing with much force. Rough one for IJax who looked like he needed additional weight on his slim frame often. He wasn’t alone in his struggles with making shots inside but he summed up the team’s issues as a whole on offense in this one.

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