INDIANAPOLIS — The Sacramento Kings used free throws to survive a cold start until their shooting heated up and they put an end to their eight-game losing skid.
Rudy Gay led the way with 31 points, his second 30-plus total of the season, and a trio of 20-plus-point scorers helped the Kings hold off the late-charging Indiana Pacers 99-94 on Saturday night.
"We needed to get a win, a tough road win," Sacramento coach Tryrone Corbin said. "We were able to stick it out at the end and get it."
Darren Collison, who scored 12 points in the first quarter, finished with 23, and Cousins earned his 28th double-double of the season with 20 points and 19 rebounds despite fouling out late in the fourth quarter.
The struggling Kings (17-29) needed their early dominance to fend off the Pacers.
The Kings overcame a poor 1 of 7 shooting to open the game by driving the lane and drawing fouls. They were 6 of 6 from the line in the opening 12 minutes.
Then they caught fire, finishing the quarter shooting 9-15 to build a 30-12 lead on a jumper from Gay with 1:53 to play.
Sacramento outscored the Pacers 34-21 in the first and continued building the lead into the second. Midway through the period, DeMarcus Cousins made a pair of free throws to give the visitors a 55-32 lead, the largest of the game.
Indiana eventually came charging back with some late free throws to cut the lead to 93-89. With less than 10 seconds to play, George Hill, who had 14 points, made a 3-pointer to cut the lead to 97-94. But Gay sealed the win from the line.
Pacers coach Frank Vogel has said Indiana would struggle against talented wing players without its top defender on the floor.
"(Gay) is just a great scorer," he said. "This is one of those nights where we miss Paul George."
George was lost in August when he broke his right leg during a pre-FIBA World Cup intrasquad exhibition game.
"What really helped set the tone was the three primary guys getting off to a good start," Cousins said. "Then the guys took the lead behind that. Once we got going, everybody got into the flow."
But, as the scoring margin began to narrow, the momentum seemed to be shifting to the Pacers.
Hill came off the bench and scored seven points during a 12-2 run in the second quarter to help the Pacers cut into the 23-point deficit. From the start of the run to the game's conclusion, the Pacers outscored the Kings 59-42.
David West and Roy Hibbert were the lone starters to have much of a scoring impact. West finished with 17, and Hibbert, 11.
Indiana held a 56-11 bench scoring advantage.
But down the stretch, Sacramento's big three led the way, scoring 19 of the Kings' 20 final points.
"I think we did a good job executing down the stretch and staying poised," Cousins said. "We had a little adversity and we didn't get rattled and finished the game out strong."
Kings: The starting five from Saturday's game (Gay, Thompson, Cousins, McLemore, Collison) are now 13-14 overall and were 0-5 during the now shelved eight-game losing streak. Since Tyrone Corbin took over the head coaching duties on Dec. 15, the Kings are 6-16, using seven different lineups.
Pacers: The injury bug strikes again as Vogel said during his pregame interview that Lavoy Allen would miss time due to a right knee strain. ... Vogel indicated that Saturday's game would likely be the last minute-restricted game for Hill, who is recovering from a sore left groin.
The NBA announced on Friday that Cousins will replace the injured Kobe Bryant on the Western Conference All-Star team. The four-year veteran will make his first All-Star Game appearance and it is the first time a Sacramento player will participate in one since 2004.
Kings: Host Warriors on Tuesday
Pacers: Host Pistons on Wednesday