The energy on the defensive end was better than it has been in weeks.
Now that’s more like it.
Veteran Harrison Barnes had 30 points and eight rebounds, while De’Aaron Fox finished with 21 points, nine assists and five rebounds to lead the Sacramento Kings to a 127-122 win over the Indiana Pacers.
The Kings went on a 14-7 run to close the fourth quarter to seal the victory, with Fox putting an exclamation point on the win.
Here are three takeaways from the Kings’ win over the Pacers:
The defense is still a work in progress, but you could see the effort
Despite giving up 122 points, Sacramento played with more intensity on the defensive end. The team finished with nine blocks and six steals against Indiana, showing a renewed commitment to protecting their basket.
No one will mistake Sacramento for the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls, but the team responded with a much better defensive effort. The Kings did a much better job of rotating and getting out to challenge Indiana’s shooters, holding the Pacers to 33.3 percent shooting from beyond the arc.
On this sequence, the Kings do a good job of cutting off penetration and although Justin Holiday gets a decent look from the 3-point line, Barnes does everything he can to contest the jumper.
It was only a four-point game going into the fourth quarter, which is when Sacramento stepped up its defense, holding Indy to just 39.3 percent shooting over the final 12 minutes.
Richaun Holmes makes a massive impact
After missing the loss to the Portland Trail Blazers with an ankle injury, Sacramento’s Energizer Bunny showed why he is vital to the team’s success.
Holmes used his athleticism and motor to make several key plays on the defensive end. He finished the game with 16 points, 10 rebounds and six blocked shots, making life difficult for the Pacers.
The numbers don’t lie when it comes to Holmes’ importance to the team. The Kings are giving up 8.1 more points per 100 possessions with Holmes on the bench, and their net rating is plus 4.9 with Holmes in the game and minus 19 with him off the court.
He doesn’t just make an impact on the defensive end. Holmes is so active on the offensive glass, which opens up second-chance opportunities for his teammates. Here is a play from the second quarter where Holmes stays with the loose ball and finds Marvin Bagley III for a lay-in.
Harrison Barnes balls out
It’s still early, but this was Barnes’ best outing of the season. The veteran was all over the court and made plays on both ends of the floor.
Barnes attacked the rim often, with eight of his 10 made field goals coming from inside the paint.
Either hand is the upper hand for HB pic.twitter.com/JWSPwFYuKc
— Sacramento Kings (@SacramentoKings) January 12, 2021
Barnes isn’t going to average 30 points per game, but Sacramento needs him to be more consistent and efficient on offense. If he can continue to penetrate and not settle for jumpers, it will go a long way to having a more balanced attack.
The 28-year-old’s active hands resulted in a few steals for the Kings, and he took a big charge against Pacers’ big man Myles Turner on the defensive end.
Sacramento has the talent to compete, but need to find some consistency going forward. If the Kings can play stingy defense for long stretches — like they did against the Pacers — they should be able to get some more wins under their belt.