Ex-Cats

Cousins and Rondo help Sacramento hang on for 108-106 victory at Indiana

Sacramento Kings forward DeMarcus Cousins (15) took a shot in front of Indiana Pacers center Jordan Hill, right, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Indianapolis, Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2015.
Sacramento Kings forward DeMarcus Cousins (15) took a shot in front of Indiana Pacers center Jordan Hill, right, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Indianapolis, Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2015. Associated Press

DeMarcus Cousins delivered the big shots inside.

Darren Collison and Rajon Rondo made life difficult on the perimeter.

Cousins scored 25 points and had a season-high 16 rebounds, Collison added a season-best 24 points and Rondo fell just short of his fifth triple-double this season as the Kings fended off the Indiana Pacers’ late push in a 108-106 victory Wednesday night.

“We don’t win without Darren Collison,” Kings Coach George Karl said. “It was a team effort in a lot of ways, but Darren Collison was special. I know he played (with Indiana). Sometimes coming back to places (motivates you).”

It was more than just Collison, though.

Rondo nearly added to his league-high total of triple doubles by finishing with 13 points, 16 assists and eight rebounds as the Kings won for the fifth time in seven games on a night that didn’t go quite as easily as it could have.

Indiana rallied from a 15-point halftime deficit to take a 106-104 lead on Monta Ellis’ 3-pointer from the corner with 2:06 to play.

Rudy Gay made a pull-up jumper to tie the score, Cousins made two free throws to give Sacramento the lead with 1:05 left, and Paul George’s 16-foot jumper to force overtime bounced off the back of the rim as the buzzer sounded.

For the small-ball Pacers, it was a mighty struggle against Sacramento’s big three.

By halftime, Cousins and Rondo already had double-doubles and Collison was approaching a season high in points.

For the Kings, things couldn’t have gone much better.

“Rajon, maybe for the first seven minutes, was almost perfect,” Karl said. “He orchestrated everybody and got us easy baskets.”

As Rondo expected, though, the Pacers fought back in the second half.

They scored the first seven points, cutting the deficit to eight, got as close as 71-70 midway through the third quarter and trailed 84-82 after three before they finally took the lead on Ellis’ 3 – only to give it right back.

Ellis finished with 21 points, while C.J. Miles and George Hill each scored 20.

“We didn’t make that last play,” George said. “They came in and played a great game on our court.”

SHOOTING WOES

George’s slump continued Wednesday. Two nights after going 1 of 15 from the field and 1 of 5 on 3s, he wound up 5 of 19 and 1 of 7. Over the last five games, George is 28 of 88 from the field, 31.2 percent.

LATE PUSH

While Cousins, Collison and Rondo did the heavy lifting much of the night, Omri Casspi played a big role in closing this one out. He scored nine points, had two rebounds and made one of his two 3s in the final 12 minutes.

BENCH WORK

Indiana’s improved bench has played a big part in its success this season and the Pacers could soon get another boost. Coach Frank Vogel said first-round draft pick Myles Turner is scheduled to have an X-ray on his injured left thumb Tuesday. If cleared, he'll start practicing right away. The 6-foot-11 Turner hasn’t played since hurting the thumb Nov. 11 at Boston.

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