The Sacramento Kings have a long way to go to shed their franchise's dismal reputation for defense, but they have made strides during a season-high win streak.
They used their latest effort to overcome Rudy Gay's absence, and his status is unknown for Saturday night's visit from the Indiana Pacers.
Sacramento (19-23) is currently allowing a league-high 107.4 points per game and hasn't finished better than 24th in that category since 2005-06. The Kings, though, have yielded an average of 96.3 points on 39.7 percent shooting while stringing together four consecutive victories that has lifted them into eighth place in the Western Conference.
They gave up their fewest points this season in a 91-88 victory over visiting Atlanta on Thursday. The Kings shot a season-low 35.9 percent with Gay nursing a bruised left heel, but they held the Hawks an 8-of-33 showing from 3-point range and 41.7 percent overall.
"It shows the potential of this team. It shows that we can be a defensive team," forward DeMarcus Cousins said. "It's just about us going out there and doing it. We can't always rely on offense."
Sacramento also posted a 56-42 rebounding advantage and a 17-7 edge on the offensive glass. Cousins had a team-best 15 boards and 24 points in his ninth consecutive double-double, and he's averaging 30.9 points and 13.8 boards in his first 10 games in 2016.
Rajon Rondo's go-ahead layup with 13 seconds left gave him his fifth triple-double this season (11 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds). It also tied him with Chris Webber for the most in one season since the franchise moved to Sacramento in 1985-86.
Rondo had 13 points, 17 assists and eight rebounds in a 108-106 win in Indiana on Dec. 23. Cousins made the tiebreaking free throws with 1:05 remaining and finished with 25 points and 16 rebounds.
Darren Collison had a season-high 24 points in Sacramento's third consecutive win in the series.
The Pacers (23-20) will try to end that skid and avoid their fifth loss in six contests. They won 97-94 against scuffling Phoenix in Tuesday's midpoint of a four-game trip but fell 122-110 to league-best Golden State on Friday.
Indiana couldn't recover from a 25-8 deficit in the opening seven minutes, but Myles Turner was a bright spot with a season-high 31 points. The first-round draft pick is averaging 23.7 points while shooting 73.2 percent (30 of 41) on this road trip.
"I thought we played a good basketball game. We just didn't get off to a good start," coach Frank Vogel said. "We won the final three quarters, and I was proud with how our guys competed."
Monta Ellis had a team-best 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting in last month's loss to the Kings and is averaging 20.7 while shooting 50.0 percent in his past three games. He shot 8 of 14 and finished with 18 points in Friday's loss.
Pacers starting point George Hill may return after a three-game absence following the birth of his son. He had 20 points in the loss in December.
Sacramento hasn't won five straight since Oct. 31-Nov. 7, 2014.