The Pacers, who had only one road win in 2009, pulled within two games of Milwaukee for the eighth and final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference.
“This is definitely a big win for us,” Murphy said. “It gets us game closer to Milwaukee and is a great way to start off a West Coast trip.”
Murphy was instrumental, producing his eighth straight game with double figures in points and rebounds and his 38th this season. He made four 3-pointers and added two steals and two blocks.
“I think Murph has been like that the last month. He has been our best player for a while,” said reserve guard Travis Diener, who scored a season-high 18 points. “He’s a double-double every night, you can almost count on it.”
Jack has averaged over 20 points the last 10 games and has also been a key player in the Pacers’ recent surge. They have won two straight and five of seven.
Jackso scored 11 fourth-quarter points, including two late baskets that silenced a Kings’ rally. He added seven rebounds, three assists and four steals.
“He is leading us over the last six games, he is being very aggressive,” Indiana coach Jim O’Brien said. “Jarrett is spacing the court and really attacking the basket. More importantly, he is our voice out there on the court.”
Kevin Martin scored 21 points for the Kings, who have dropped two straight and five of six. Rashad McCants scored 20 points and Spencer Hawes tied his career-high with 19 points. Jason Thompson scored 13 points and Bobby Jackson had 12.
Trailing by 15 points entering the fourth quarter, the Kings cut the margin to 110-101 on a driving layup by McCants with 2:45 remaining. Following a timeout, Diener connected on this fifth and final 3-pointer and Jack followed with a pair of baskets to put Indiana ahead 117-101.
Afterward, the Kings, who own the NBA’s worst record at 13-49, weren’t bemoaning their failed comeback. They were more upset with their lack of overall effort and defensive intensity, traits that have followed them throughout what could be the worse season in franchise history.
“Well, needless to say our defense was atrocious tonight,” Kings coach Kenny Natt said. “It’s on the first unit of guys that was out there that really gave the game away from the start in regards to effort and lack of defense.”
Accompanied by Larry Bird, president of basketball operations, the Pacers arrived in Sacramento hoping to halt a trend that had seen them lose 12 of 13 on the road since a victory in Phoenix on Jan. 7. They picked the right place to do it because the Kings hadn’t beaten an Eastern Conference team all season and are now winless in 24 games.
The Pacers, who made 11-of-21 3-point shots, played their seventh straight game without All-Star Danny Granger, who is recuperating from a partially torn tendon in his right foot. Indiana was also without Mike Dunleavy, who is out for the season and contemplating knee surgery.
The Pacers are 5-2 without Granger, who could return on this road trip.
“We’ve had a pretty favorable schedule lately,” Murphy said. “But it is nice to know guys can step up when we need them. The Kings have traded a lot of guys, half their team is new. We felt we had to jump on them early and we were able to do that.”
Ford scored seven points in the third quarter for the Pacers, who built the lead to 20 points and went into the fourth with a 93-78 advantage.
The Kings had no answer for Murphy in the opening half. The veteran forward hurt the Kings on the perimeter and inside, getting 20 points and six rebounds for Indiana. The Pacers benefited from the Kings’ marginal defensive effort in taking a 65-51 halftime lead.
“We take strides and then we take three steps back,” Hawes said. “We definitely have to figure something out, put a combination together and get some kind of consistency on the defensive end of the floor.”
Thompson is the only Kings player to have played in all 62 games this season. Bird watched the game in a lower level seat with former Pacers player Sam Perkins. … Kings rookie Donte Green played power forward for the first time all season.