Oladipo remains out as Pacers face Kings
Oladipo has missed the last six games with a strained right knee, prompting the Pacers to release a statement Thursday that he will continue to be out “indefinitely.”
The Kings visit Indiana in a rematch next Saturday.
Oladipo had 24 points when the Pacers completed a two-game sweep of the Kings in last year’s season series with a 106-103 win at Sacramento in March.
The Pacers have gone 3-3 without him in this stretch, including a 104-96 loss in Los Angeles against the Lakers on Thursday night.
They still have a chance to complete a 3-1 trip with a win at Sacramento, and that needs to be the team’s focus, guard Darren Collison told reporters after Thursday’s loss.
“It will be our fault if we lose our minds and we don’t get the next game,” he insisted. “The NBA is about bouncing back. Let’s see what we do next game.”
The Pacers have beaten the Kings four straight, which belies the general competitiveness of the series in recent years.
Nine of the 13 meetings since 2012 have been decided by eight or fewer points, including six of the last seven in Sacramento. Four of the 13 games have gone to overtime.
The Kings will have to shore up their defense if they want that competitive run to continue. They’re coming off 21- and 12-point home losses to Utah and the Los Angeles Clippers, respectively, giving up 133 points in each game.
“It’s been defense. That’s the end of the court that we have to be able to get better at,” star point guard De’Aaron Fox cited after Thursday’s loss. “If we do, I think it will be a surge in the team. When our defense is up, our offense picks up even more.”
Indiana has turned up its defense in the absence of Oladipo, allowing an average of just 96.0 points in the first three games of its trip. The Pacers limited Utah to 42.0 percent shooting and Phoenix to 44.6 in its two wins, with those two opponents combining to make just 18 of their 61 3-pointers (29.5 percent).
Meanwhile, nine different guys have scored in double figures on the trip, with reserve Doug McDermott, who had scored 10 or more just six times in his first 19 games as a Pacer, going for 21, 21 and 10.
McDermott has shot 18-for-30 (60 percent) overall in the three games and 9-for-13 (69 percent) on 3-pointers.
The Kings, meanwhile, have allowed their last two opponents — the Jazz and Clippers — to shoot 53.3 and 55.6 percent, respectively, and connect on 22-for-58 (37.9 percent) on threes.
Bogdan Bogdanovic, who missed the first 10 games of the season following knee surgery, has heated up of late for the Kings, going for 20 and 26 points in the first two losses of the homestand.