Bagley erupts for 31 points as surging Kings blast Pacers to gain ground in play-in race

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Marvin Bagley III had a breakout game and the Kings won again Wednesday night, completing a sweep of their four-game road trip to gain ground on the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference play-in race.

Bagley erupted for a season-high 31 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Kings to a 104-93 victory over the Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. The Kings have won four in a row and five of six to close within 2 ½ games of the Spurs for the final spot in the play-in tournament despite the absences of De’Aaron Fox, Harrison Barnes and Tyrese Haliburton.

“We’re doing a hell of a job,” Bagley told NBC Sports California in a courtside interview after the game. “We’re playing together. We’re playing with passion. We’re talking, communicating. Everybody’s on the same page, man. It feels great to come out here — we had a four-game road trip, went 4-0. That was the plan coming into it and we got the job done, so I’m definitely excited about what we’re doing. Now we’ve got to continue to keep this thing rolling.”

Bagley posted his 11th double-double of the season and just missed his career high of 32 points after missing 23 games recently due to a fractured fourth metacarpal in his left hand.

“When you get into coaching, you love to see young players grow and develop, and like I keep saying, Marvin made huge strides this year,” Kings coach Luke Walton said. “Unfortunately he’s been hit with some unlucky injuries, but this is now two out of the last three games that he put up big-time performances. I was happy for him. I was happy to see his teammates. That’s part of the fun of the sport when you’re playing well and you’ve got your guys behind you. He was really good tonight.”

Delon Wright had 23 points, seven rebounds, six assists and a career-high six steals for the Kings (29-37), who will play the Spurs on Friday at Golden 1 Center. Buddy Hield had an outstanding game as well, finishing with 16 points, nine rebounds and eight assists.

Domantis Sabonis had 13 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists for the Pacers (30-35), who have lost four of their last five games. Caris LeVert had 14 points on 5-of-18 shooting.

The Kings shot just 45.3% from the field and 25% from 3-point range, but they held the Pacers to 43.4% shooting and forced 21 turnovers. The Kings have been the worst defensive team in the NBA this season, but they have held their last three opponents under 100 points.

“Great road trip. Really happy with the guys,” Walton said. “And I think tonight really showed what we’ve kind of been talking about all year, which is we know we’re going to be OK offensively. We’re struggling to score the way we have most of the season, I think, mainly due to not having Fox, Tyrese and Harrison out there, but the defense these last few games has just been outstanding from the way we’re competing and covering for each other, and the key is to combine the two. … Tough road trip from the standpoint of flying all over the country and guys being hurt, down, and just keep battling, and to go 4-0 on this road trip is great. … It will be a good flight home.”

Up next

The Kings will come home to face the San Antonio Spurs on Friday at Golden 1 Center in a game with playoff implications for both teams.

The Spurs (31-34) have lost five in a row after suffering a 126-94 loss to the Utah Jazz on Wednesday. The Kings are 2 ½ games behind the Spurs for the final spot in the Western Conference play-in tournament. They also trail the New Orleans Pelicans by one game.

The Kings have six games remaining against the Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder (2), Memphis Grizzlies (2) and Jazz. The Spurs have a much more daunting schedule with seven games remaining against the Kings, Portland Trail Blazers, Milwaukee Bucks, Brooklyn Nets, New York Knicks and Phoenix Suns (2).

The Kings and Spurs split two games in San Antonio earlier this season. The Kings picked up a 132-115 win over the Spurs on March 29 before suffering a 120-106 loss on March 31.

Injury report

Kings: OUT — Harrison Barnes (adductor); De’Aaron Fox (health and safety protocols); Tyrese Haliburton (knee); Chimezie Metu (back); Robert Woodard II (back).

Pacers: OUT — Malcolm Brogdon (hamstring); Jeremy Lamb (knee); JaKarr Sampson (concussion); Myles Turner (toe); T.J. Warren (foot).

Kings upcoming schedule

May 7 vs. San Antonio Spurs, 7 p.m.

May 9 vs. Oklahoma City Thunder, 7 p.m.

May 11 vs. Oklahoma City Thunder, 7 p.m.

May 13 at Memphis Grizzlies, 5 p.m.

May 14 at Memphis Grizzlies, 6 p.m.

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