De’Aaron Fox Returns, But Sacramento Caps Off Long Day With Loss To T-Wolves

Feb 8, 2022, 9:23 PM | Updated: 10:28 pm
SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 14: De'Aaron Fox #5 of the Sacramento Kings drives to the basket f...
(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Fox scored 29 points in his return to action following an eight-game absence

Talk about a long day.

On a day that saw the Sacramento Kings trade away a beloved player in Tyrese Haliburton, the basketball on the floor was not a therapeutic experience on Tuesday night at Golden 1 Center.

Sacramento allowed the Minnesota Timberwolves to hammer the perimeter all game long as they dropped a 134-114 contest just hours after trading Haliburton, Buddy Hield and Tristan Thompson to the Indiana Pacers in return for All-Star center Domantas Sabonis, Justin Holiday and Jeremy Lamb.

Tuesday’s ugly game was a footnote compared to the bombshell news of the day as it has become clear that general manager Monte McNair is ready to revamp this roster.

With the loss, Sacramento (20-36) falls to three games behind the 10th seed New Orleans Pelicans with just one more game to go until Thursday’s Trade Deadline passes.

Although the Kings defense allowed the Timberwolves to shoot seven-of-14 (50%) from beyond the three-point line during the first quarter, they were able to keep pace during the opening 12 minutes of play.

Damian Jones led all Kings scorers with 8 points during the period as Sacramento and Minnesota were tied at 35-35 heading into the second quarter.

In his first game back after an eight-game absence, De’Aaron Fox made his presence known during the first half as the guard scored 18 points (three-of-four from three-point range) over the first two quarters.

Harrison Barnes’ largest first-half scoring output of the season (19 points) still wasn’t enough to put the Kings over the hump as the T-Wolves took a 73-67 lead into the break thanks to a not-so-surprising poor defensive effort from Sacramento.

While the shorthanded Kings offense was playing at a high level, the worst defense in the league continued to do its thing as the Timberwolves built a 102-90 lead after three quarters of action.

Minnesota, a team that came into Tuesday’s game averaging 112.4 points per game, nearly topped that number before we even reached the fourth quarter thanks to red-hot shooting from three-point land.

Sacramento wouldn’t be able to close the gap as the Timberwolves picked apart the awful Kings defense for the majority of the fourth quarter.

Minnesota finished the game a sickening 22-of-44 (50%) from beyond the three-point line, just one made three-pointer shy of tying a season-high.

With no Tyrese Haliburton, Buddy Hield, Tristan Thompson, Marvin Bagley III or Moe Harkless (for the second half) available, the Kings bench was very thin on Tuesday. Jahmi’us Ramsey, Louis King and Robert Woodard were all called on to help carry the load of minutes for the second unit during the loss.

The trade that will bring the two-time All-Star Sabonis to Sacramento became official during the first quarter, meaning that we could see the talented center–along with Justin Holiday and Jeremy Lamb–in uniform sooner than later.

“He’s a good rebounder, he’s a very good passer, and he gives us some force on the inside,” Kings head coach Alvin Gentry said of Sabonis following Tuesday’s game. “We are very excited about having him on this team.”

The Kings have just four games remaining until the All-Star break and just one game until Thursday’s 12pm PST trade deadline passes.

Tyrese Haliburton will be missed in Sacramento. There’s no other way to slice it.

Since he was selected with the 12th-overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, the talented guard has done nothing but impress–both on and off of the court–during his one-and-a-half seasons in a Kings jersey.

“It’s not easy. I’m telling you, from an emotional standpoint, it’s not easy,” Gentry said of the team’s decision to trade Haliburton. “I told him I love him, and I do love him. I think that he’s going to be a very good player in this league.”

In the NBA, it’s very rare to acquire strong talent without parting with talent of your own. It isn’t supposed to be painless. In most cases, trades like these often hurt lots of feelings.

The Sacramento Kings have been awful for 16 seasons. Monte McNair has drawn a line in the sand and made it clear that this front office is going to be extremely aggressive in ending this playoff drought. Haliburton is going to have a successful career, without a doubt.

Kings fans will have to hope that this pairing of De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis will work–because if it doesn’t, and Sabonis walks following the 2023-24 season, Sacramento will have another horrifying addition to its laundry list of mess-ups.

Sabonis, a two-time All-Star, is averaging 18.9 points, 12.1 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game this season on 50-percent shooting from the field. He is a very good player.

Still, Haliburton’s time in Sacramento will always be remembered fondly. Number zero will get a memorable ovation when he returns to Golden 1 Center next season in an opposing uniform. That, you can believe.

Welcome Back

De’Aaron Fox looked as if his ankle was feeling just fine in his first action since January 19th.

Fox finished the night with 29 points on 11-of-22 shooting (four-of-six from three-point range), seven rebounds, six assists and a steal over 35 minutes of play on Tuesday.

Injury Updates

  • De’Aaron Fox (ankle soreness) was a full participant during Monday’s practice, but was labeled as a game-time decision on Tuesday. 90 minutes before tip-off, Alvin Gentry told the media that Fox was likely to return before the guard was ruled active shortly before the Kings took the floor.
  • Marvin Bagley III (ankle soreness), like Fox, was listed as a game-time decision vs Minnesota before being ruled out for a fifth-straight game.
  • Moe Harkless exited Tuesday’s game during the second quarter after taking a bad step and injuring his right ankle. Harkless is considered day-to-day.
  • Richaun Holmes was ruled out due to personal reasons shortly before tip-off.
  • Terence Davis will be re-evaluated in two-to-three months after undergoing successful surgery to repair a right wrist ECU tendon injury.

Coming Up

See you all tomorrow. Same time. Same place. Same teams.

Sacramento and Minnesota will run it back on Wednesday night as they will play a game that will undoubtedly be surrounded by a cloud of uncertainty with Thursday’s 12pm PST Trade Deadline looming.

You can find all of your Kings vs Timberwolves coverage right here on Sports 1140 KHTK beginning at 3:00pm PST on The Nick Cattles Show prior to a 7:00pm PST tip-off from downtown Sacramento.

Upcoming Sacramento Kings Schedule

  • February 9th vs Minnesota Timberwolves
  • February 10th: NBA Trade Deadline – 12:00pm PST
  • February 12th @ Washington Wizards
  • February 14th @ Brooklyn Nets
  • February 16th @ Chicago Bulls
  • February 17th-23rd: NBA All-Star Break


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