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Kings, Pacers battle for first time since mega trade

Sportsnaut
Nov 7, 2021; Sacramento, California, USA; Sacramento Kings forward Harrison Barnes (40) drives in against Indiana Pacers forward Torrey Craig (13) during the second quarter at Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

A bruised knee will keep Sacramento’s Domantas Sabonis from getting his going-away reception in Indianapolis on Wednesday night, six weeks after he was traded by the Indiana Pacers.

The Sacramento Kings visit the Pacers, but Sabonis has already been ruled out of the Kings’ entire five-game trip after he suffered the bruised left knee Sunday in a collision with Mikal Bridges of the Phoenix Suns.

Sacramento and Indiana will be meeting for the first time since the headlines-grabbing transaction of Feb. 8, when the five-year Pacers standout was dealt to the Kings along with Justin Holiday, Jeremy Lamb and a 2023 second-round pick for Tyrese Haliburton, Buddy Hield and Tristan Thompson.

The Kings have announced Sabonis will be re-evaluated on April 2, one day before their next scheduled home game against Golden State.

“It looked like knee-to-knee action,” teammate Damian Jones said. “I was like, dang, because that stuff really hurts. I was just hoping for the best.”

With Sabonis not available for the final 4 1/2 minutes of regulation and the five-minute overtime, the Kings fell 127-124 to the Suns. Rookie Davion Mitchell grabbed the spotlight and finished off a season-best, 28-point performance in the defeat.

Sabonis has been brilliant for Sacramento, recording 12 double-doubles in 15 games while averaging 18.9 points and 12.3 rebounds. He’s shot 55.4 percent from the field in those games.

He put up similar numbers — 16.3 points and 10.5 rebounds — in 319 games for Indiana, which had acquired him as part of the Paul George trade with Oklahoma City in 2017.

Unfortunately for the Kings, like the Pacers before them, Sabonis’ almost nightly double-double has had far less impact in the standings than on the stat sheet. Sacramento was 20-35 on the day of the deal; the Kings are just 5-12 since he debuted for them on Feb. 9.

The same has been true for Haliburton, the key asset acquired by the Pacers in the trade. He averaged 14.3 points and 7.4 assists in 51 games for the Kings, and has bumped those numbers to 17.4 and 9.1 in his first 16 outings for the Pacers. Yet, Indiana is just 6-10 in those games.

Indiana enters the finale of a two-game homestand on a two-game winning streak, having put up 121 points in a win at Houston and 129 in a home romp over the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday.

Haliburton admitted recently he was shocked to hear he’d been traded by the Kings when his backcourt partner, De’Aaron Fox, had been the focus of most of the rumors.

“I thought I was untouchable,” the 22-year-old said. “I’d tell my friends that I wasn’t worried about the upcoming deadline. It was the other people who had to be worried. And … it was me.”

Haliburton has been more of a ball distributor than a scorer during the Pacers’ pair of wins, totaling 20 points and 14 assists in those games, marking their first successive triumphs in two months.

Rookie Terry Taylor, whose minutes have become more consistent since Sabonis left, made all seven of his shots and contributed 17 points to the victory over Portland.

–Field Level Media