Pacers Rally Behind Al’s Monster Game
Al Jefferson and the Indiana Pacers wiped out a 19-point first-half deficit on Wednesday night and rallied in the second half to come back and beat the Sacramento Kings 106-100 at the Golden One Center.
Big Al had a monster game, scoring 20 points on 9-of-12 shooting for his best offensive output of the season, and he was one of the lone bright spots for the Pacers in the first half.
The Kings owned the first quarter, helped by four Pacers turnovers and four threes in the opening quarter. Al got his first mark on the scoresheet in the closing seconds of the first when, after setting a screen for Aaron Brooks at the three point line, he leaked into the paint for a layup after.
That was just the start of Al’s night, though. There was no King who could guard Al in the second. The Professor took the competition for 10 points in the quarter. The shots came from all over the court. With 10:12 to play in the second there was a tip-in on a Brooks’ miss. With 9:37 Al corralled an offensive rebound and kept it for a jumper from the elbow that capped a 7-0 run and forced a Sacramento timeout. The highlight of the quarter was Al’s familiar up-and-under spin move to get around the taller Willie Cauley-Stein for a lay up.
“I got in the right spots, they made good passes,” Al said of his second quarter outburst. “They were easy shots for me. Once I hit a couple and I did get the ball on the block, I just went to work.”
Indiana cut the Sacramento lead to eight multiple times in the second but were unable to close the deficit further. The Kings outscored the Pacers 20-9 over the final 5:00 of the half to set the stage for the second half comeback.
The Pacers came out of the locker room aggressive, going on a 6-0 run to open the third. The Kings responded with five straight of their own, but Indiana continued to attack and outscored the Kings 30-19 in the quarter.
Al was back in to start the fourth after the starters played the entire third quarter, and The Big Fella picked up right where he left off. Sacramento still had no answer for No. 7, as Al scored on three straight possessions over a 1:21 stretch early in the fourth that was followed by a Paul George steal and slam the other way. Those baskets were part of a 10-3 Pacers run that cut Sacramento’s lead to 85-83 with 8:09 to go.
The Pacers continued to threaten until two Jeff Teague free throws gave Indiana a 99-98 advantage with 1:56 remaining, their first lead since the first quarter. Paul George hit a fadeaway jumper on the ensuing possession to stretch the gap to three to three with 1:34 left. The game’s exclamation point came with 24 seconds left when Thaddeus Young’s emphatic block of a DeMarcus Cousins lay up led to a wide-open Myles Turner dunk at the other end to ice the game.
The Pacers outscored Sacramento 65-40 in the second half. The Kings, who shot 63 percent in the first half, finished at 48 percent shooting for the game and turned the ball over 21 times.
Big Al credited the Pacers defense, particularly on Cousins, who finished with a triple-double, for the second half turnaround.
“We were moving out of the way in the first half, we were letting Cousins do what he wanted to do,” said Al. “I think finally our pride stepped up and we just got a backbone and started playing together.”
The Pacers will stay on the west coast to play the Lakers on Friday. Indiana is 7-1 over their last eight games. Tip off is at 10:30 p.m EST.