Pacers' Domantas Sabonis hopes to double down at Sacramento
Domantas Sabonis is coming off the first 20-point, 20-rebound outing of his career, and his reward is playing his next game against a team struggling on defense.
The All-Star big man will look to make it 10 double-doubles in 10 games on Monday, when the Indiana Pacers open a five-game road trip with a contest against the Sacramento Kings.
Sabonis scored 28 points and matched his career high of 22 rebounds in Saturday's 125-117 home win over the Phoenix Suns.
He had just four points in the first half before exploding for 20 third-quarter points en route to his second-highest scoring effort of the campaign.
"Just trying to be aggressive, getting some offensive rebounds, putbacks," Sabonis said of his third-quarter splurge. "Guards were doing a great job of attacking the bigs. Any miss, I tried to clean it up. I didn't have a great shooting night, so just trying to clean it up and set great screens for my teammates."
Sabonis made half his field-goal attempts (12 of 24), which lowered his season's shooting percentage to 56.3 percent. But he is playing like a guy intent on making his second straight All-Star team, as he is averaging 21.6 points, a team-best 12.6 rebounds and 6.1 assists.
Sabonis and the Pacers will be looking to take advantage of a Sacramento squad that is allowing an average of 132.5 points over the past four games. The Kings lost three of the games with an average margin of defeat of 26 points.
The stretch started with a 137-106 road loss to the Golden State Warriors on Monday before Sacramento was able to outscore the visiting Chicago Bulls 128-124 on Wednesday.
But things deteriorated with Friday's 144-123 home loss to the Toronto Raptors, and the team was routed again Saturday when the visiting Portland Trail Blazers registered a 125-99 victory.
"Teams have been shooting the lights out against us for sure," Kings coach Luke Walton said of his club, which allows 121 points per game. "Some of that has to do with some natural letdown, some of it has to do with us needing to improve on that end of the court."
Rookie Tyrese Haliburton made his first career start against Portland with Richaun Holmes (ankle) sidelined. Haliburton wasn't much interested in a reporter's question asking if there had been any improvement in the defense from the previous night.
"Did you see improvements?" Haliburton asked. "It was a poor performance by us. You can't continue to give up that many points consistently and expect to win. It is frustrating. We have to figure it out. Nobody is coming to save us."
Haliburton, the 12th overall pick in the 2020 draft, has been a bright spot for the Kings with averages of 12.1 points and a team-leading 5.5 assists. He contributed 12 points and eight assists in 31 minutes against the Trail Blazers and has scored in double digits in six consecutive games.
De'Aaron Fox leads Sacramento in scoring (18.0) and is second in assists (5.0) but hasn't been able to prevent his club from losing five of its past six games.
Holmes is questionable to face the Pacers.
--Field Level Media
Updated January 10, 2021