Some breath-taking basketball was on display in Mumbai’s NSCI Dome on Friday as Indiana Pacers edged past Sacramento Kings 132-131 in a thrilling contest, in what was National Basketball Association’s first ever game in India.
It was also NBA’s first pre-season game ahead of the upcoming season.
After the regulation time ended at 118-118, the match was decided in the extra five minutes when the Pacers, who were trailing throughout the match, went ahead for the first-time and managed to eke out a close win.
For Kings, a two-pointer by Marvin Bagley (12 points) in the dying seconds of the game could not quite seal the deal.
In the additional time, it was T Warren (30 points) took the lead for Pacers with a three-pointer to take his side 121-118 ahead, but the Kings bounced back with Harrison Barnes (21 points) grabbing two points.
However, Domantas Sabons (21 points), with a two-pointer again, took the Pacers ahead 123-120.
And once again it was Warren with a two-pointer took Pacers ahead, but the Kings came back but finally it was a lay-up shot by Sabons that sealed the game for his side.
With a flurry of three-pointers, the Kings went ahead 17-6 early on as the Pacers defense was tested fully after first five-and-half minutes.
However, a small break seemed to have rejuvenated the Pacers as they reduced the gap to 16-22 with five minutes left for the first-quarter to end. The Kings enjoyed a 10-point lead at 39-29.
Stars from both the teams showed their class with dribbles, drills and shooting and dunks as a three-pointer from Nemanja Bjelica helped the Kings only extend their lead over the Pacers.
Their advantage soon swelled to 51-38 with eight minutes for the second quarter to end and then they gave no chance for the Pacers to make a come-back. Kings ended the second quarter with another three-pointer to lead 72-59.
However, the third quarter belonged to the Pacers as, after the first four minutes, they nearly equalised with the scoreline reading 76-77.
It was neck-and-neck from thereon as the Pacers continued to reduce the gap. But every-time, they inched closer, the Kings ensured that they stayed ahead and a late three-pointer by Corey Joseph tilted the tide in their favour as they ended the third quarter with a slender 97-92 lead.
But the Pacers continued to bounce back and eventually managed to draw level at 118-118 apiece after the regulation time and force the game into additional time.
Kings coach Luke Walton said after the match, “We had a very good chance of winning the game, don’t think we lost the grip of it. Will look to give more players a chance.”
The winning gaffer was delighted, of course. Pacers coach Nate McMillan, said: “I am very happy with the way we bounced back in the second half. We showed our identity.”
The second pre-season game of the tour will be played on Saturday, while the regular season begins in the USA on October 22.