SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP)—Stephen Jackson stared down the Sacramento crowd and blew on his hot fingers after his fourth consecutive 3-pointer ripped through the net.
The Indiana Pacers were well on their way to a blowout victory—and the Kings’ stars were on their way to a benching.
Jackson scored 17 of his season-high 31 points while hitting five of the Pacers’ 13 3-pointers, and Jermaine O’Neal had 12 points and eight rebounds in his return to the lineup for a 108-83 win Sunday night.
Coach Rick Carlisle got exactly what he expected out of his team after a tremendous practice at Arco Arena one day earlier. The Pacers took control with a 23-6 run in the second quarter and a 19-6 surge in the third, while their defense completely flummoxed Mike Bibby and Peja Stojakovic, who were benched shortly after halftime.
“We played with an edge, especially on the defensive end,” Carlisle said. “When you have that type of aggression defensively, generally good things happen on the offensive end. It was one of our better efforts of the year.”
Fred Jones scored 18 points for the Pacers, while Jackson’s four straight 3-pointers put Indiana up by 33 points in the third, practically guaranteeing the end of a six-game losing streak against the Kings.
O’Neal didn’t start and played just 22 minutes after missing the last three games with the flu, but the Pacers didn’t need him. Jones, Austin Croshere and Sarunas Jasikevicius combined for seven 3-pointers against Sacramento’s pathetic perimeter defense, and the Pacers led by 35 points late.
“Winning two straight was huge for us, (because) we have been going through a lot,” Jackson said of the Pacers, who have been distracted by O’Neal’s illness and Ron Artest’s pending departure, among several issues. “That tells a lot about this team. Everybody is handling our situation pretty well. No matter what we’re going through, we have a job to do every day.”
The Kings seem to do their jobs only every other day.
Kenny Thomas scored 21 points for the injury-depleted Kings, who showed none of the life from their 118-114 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers two nights earlier. Bibby went 1-for-10 before getting pulled, and Stojakovic had 12 points—just two after halftime, when Sacramento was booed off the floor with a 21-point deficit.
“We didn’t compete. It’s hard for me to understand,” coach Rick Adelman said. “They started imposing their will, and we just backed down and moved out of the way. I don’t know how you could do that. Everybody in that room is going to have to look at themselves and try to figure out what’s going on, and think about why we’re so up and down.”
With their final basket, the Kings avoided surpassing their biggest loss ever to the Pacers, a 26-point defeat in 1993. Sacramento also was one point better than in its biggest loss of the season, a 26-point defeat in Oklahoma City on opening night.
Jackson tied the Kings franchise record for the most 3-pointers in a quarter by an opponent. Both clubs’ reserves played the fourth, and Bibby sat away from the Kings’ huddle during the rest of the night’s timeouts, gazing into the crowd while Adelman spoke to the team.
“We just didn’t come in with any energy,” said Jason Hart, who had a season-high 10 points. “We didn’t even give ourselves a chance to win. It was a bad, bad loss. You don’t want to go on the road with a loss like that, because the next team will feed on that.”
The Kings dropped to 9-11 at home, losing as many games as they did all last season. Sacramento has been one of the NBA’s toughest home teams since Adelman’s arrival in 1998, but his club will have its worst record at Arco Arena during his tenure with one more loss.
Shareef Abdur-Rahim has missed five straight games with a broken jaw, and Bonzi Wells has missed seven straight with a torn groin muscle. Neither first-year Kings starter is expected back any time soon.
While O’Neal returned, G Jamaal Tinsley remained sidelined for the Pacers, missing his fifth straight game with a torn biceps muscle. … C Scot Pollard, the popular former Sacramento backup, also was back in uniform after missing the last game with the flu. He got a loud ovation when he got off Indiana’s bench in the third quarter, and finished with four points and four rebounds. … Pacers C David Harrison got a technical foul for arguing while his team was ahead by 33 points with 3:39 to play.