The Pacers have lost six straight to the Kings since a 97-86 win at Sacramento on March 3, 2002, and could be trying to end that skid without some of its key players.
Indiana, currently on a four-game western trip, has been playing without center Jermaine O’Neal, point guard Jamaal Tinsley and small forward Ron Artest. The Pacers, though, still managed to beat Golden State 99-89 on Thursday night.
“It’s a huge win,” Indiana coach Rick Carlisle said. “As big a win as I can remember in a long time.”
O’Neal has missed three games with pneumonia and a sore back, but he rejoined the team before Thursday’s game and could be in the lineup against the Kings. Tinsley has been out four games with a torn right biceps and may also be ready to play Sunday.
Artest has been on the inactive list for the last 13 games with a sore wrist and has requested a trade.
“There is absolutely nothing we can go through that we haven’t seen,” said O’Neal, who plans to practice Saturday to gauge whether he’ll be ready for Sunday’s game. “The last thing I want to do is mess up the chemistry these guys have right now.”
The Pacers have won two of three following a season-high four-game losing streak.
“I really like our team, very much,” Carlisle said. “Injuries have hurt us lately. We’re getting a chance to develop some other guys right now, which is a positive even though it’s under tough circumstances.
“You’ve got to view the overall theme as growth. There’s got to be some growth going on, even though you’re going through tough times.”
Indiana finishes the trip with a matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday.
The Kings are also playing through injuries, and they won for the third time in four games with a 118-114 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday night.
Shareef Abdur-Rahim has missed the last four games with a broken jaw that is wired shut, and Bonzi Wells missed his sixth straight contest with a strained groin. Against the Clippers, Mike Bibby dealt with a case of the flu and still scored 32 points, 11 coming in the fourth quarter.
“It’s tough sometimes, but it’s my job,” said Bibby, his throat hoarse from illness. “If I can run, I’m going to play.”
Sacramento is 12-3 when scoring 100 points or more, and 1-15 when failing to hit the mark.