For the majority of the 4th quarter, it looked as if the Sacramento Kings were going to rise up and knock off the East’s best team, but Paul George would have none of that. George connected on a 4-point play with just 15 seconds remaining, erasing Indiana’s deficit in an instant to cause overtime, and in the extra period, the Pacers were able to outlast the Kings, 116-111.
First off for the Kings, Marcus Thornton exploded for 42 points (not a misprint) in the game, shooting 16-for-27 from the floor and 7-for-15 from long range, and it was by far the best game of the year for the 6-foot-4 guard from LSU. Before Friday, Thornton was having easily the most disappointing season of his career, including an ugly 36% clip from the floor, but this was the very definition of a breakout effort. Ironically, though, there was an argument to be made that Thornton wasn’t even the most valuable player in his own backcourt.
In a wild turn of events, starting point guard Isaiah Thomas (who has made a quiet All-Star push in recent weeks) scored 38 points and dished out 6 assists. Thomas wasn’t quite as efficient as Thornton, as he shot just 13-for-31, but the ball was in his hands seemingly at all times, and the fact that the diminutive duo managed to do this type of damage against Indy is downright shocking. In total, the two guards combined for a staggering 80 points, and they were the impetus of the lead that Sacramento built in this one.
Unfortunately, it simply wasn’t enough, as long as Paul George was still in the building. George’s 4-point play was the play of the night in the entire association, but he was utterly tremendous throughout. The All-Star swingman finished with 36 points on just 22 shots, and when you throw in his incredible defensive showing (including 4 steals and 2 blocks), it was the type of transcendent effort we’ve come to expect.
Of course, it wasn’t just the Paul George Show. His counterpart on the wing, Lance Stephenson, had a huge night, scoring 24 points, grabbing 10 rebounds, and dishing out 6 assists, and power forward David West added 22 points on 14 shots. Needing 116 points (even in a 53-minute game) isn’t the Pacers style, but it almost reassures their doubters who consider their offense to be a distant afterthought to their dominant scoring prevention.
In the end, this was an encouraging effort from the Kings, but when the Pacers kick it in to high gear (even for a moment), they are abjectly terrifying for the opposition.