NDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Paul George scored 31 points, making four 3-pointers, to lead the Indiana Pacers to a 116-92 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night.
David West had 16 points and eight rebounds, and Lance Stephenson added 13 points, five rebounds and five assists for the Pacers (30-7), who have won five of six.
The victory clinched the Eastern Conference coaching spot for Frank Vogel, since the Pacers are guaranteed to have the best winning percentage in the conference through games of Feb. 2 with Miami’s Erik Spoelstra ineligible after coaching last year.
DeMarcus Cousins had 31 points and 13 rebounds, and Rudy Gay scored 12 points for the Kings (13-23), who scored under 100 points for the first time in 12 games.
George was fouled driving to the basket with 8:36 remaining and converted the three-point play before Luis Scola made a free throw to cap off a 16-2 run early in the fourth quarter.
The NBA’s top defensive team had little trouble against a Sacramento team that scored over 100 points in 18 of the previous 19 games.
Cousins scored 12 points in the first half before breaking away with 19 third-quarter points. He scored nine of Sacramento’s first 13 to open the second half.
Cousins picked up his third foul with 5:22 left in the third when Roy Hibbert went up for a follow shot. Hibbert split from the line to give Indiana a 68-58 lead and Indiana kept just enough room.
George made a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Pacers an 86-74 lead at the end of the third quarter to spark the big run for Indiana.
The Pacers host New York and the Los Angeles Clippers before making a trip to the West Coast for five games.
Indiana didn’t waste any time taking a lead on the Kings, opening the game on an 11-2 run.
Hibbert converted a three-point play, George Hill made a layup and George dunked before Stephenson and West scored to give the Pacers the early lead with 8:27 remaining in the first quarter.
Then the Kings scored eight straight.
The Kings went on a late 7-2 run, but West scored to give the Pacers a 59-45 halftime lead.