‘Cardiac Kings’ outlast Bulls comeback effort behind Fox’s 41 points

Feb 3, 2024, 7:57 PM

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - FEBRUARY 03: De'Aaron Fox #5 of the Sacramento Kings attempts to steal the ball...

(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

It’s never easy for the Sacramento Kings.

Sacramento continues to test the hearts and nerves of Kings fans, with Saturday’s game in Chicago being the latest stressful finish.

The Kings nearly let a 30-point lead slip from their grasp late in the fourth quarter, but De’Aaron Fox’s 41-point performance and another big night from Malik Monk were enough to give Sacramento a 123-115 win at United Center.

It was an important win for the Kings, as they improved to an impressive 5-1 start to their seven-game road trip that is set to conclude on Monday night in Cleveland.

Last season, Sacramento didn’t improve to ten games over the .500 mark until February 26th. This year, the Kings (29-19) have reached the mark on February 3rd.

These winning efforts might be full of nerves and stressful situations, but Sacramento pulled out another late win to cap a back-to-back with another victorious effort.

Kings vs. Bulls Recap & Takeaways

When De’Aaron Fox returned to the lineup last season after missing some time following the birth of his son, Reign, he went on quite a run during the weeks that followed.

Fox averaged 31.5 points per game over the next ten games following his return, and the All-NBA guard channeled those performances on Saturday as he celebrated Reign’s first birthday.

With his son sitting courtside next to his mother, Recee, Fox asserted himself quickly by scoring 12 points on four-of-five shooting during the first quarter as Sacramento jumped out to an early lead.

While Chicago entered play in possession of the NBA’s top paint defense (44.0 points per game), the Kings got whatever they wanted inside the key as Sacramento scored 34 points on 77 percent shooting in the paint during the first half. An active Kings offense also handed out 24 assists during the first half–the most during a single half this season.

It wasn’t just inside the paint, either, as the Sacramento lit it up from three-point land (nine-of-18) thanks to five made triples from Trey Lyles (15 points) and an incredible start from Fox, who scored 22 first-half points on three-of-six shooting from downtown.

Through 24 minutes of action, it was all Sacramento as the Beam Team took a 71-52 lead into the break with a 5-1 start to this seven-game road trip in their sights.

While it seemed as if this game was on its way to turning into a laugher following an 11-0 run to open up the second half by the Kings, Chicago responded just as Sacramento started to run away.

The Bulls reduced a 30-point deficit to just ten after ending the third quarter on a 29-9 run. A once red-hot Kings offense was held to 20 points on 27 percent shooting from the field in the period as Chicago turned up the defensive intensity.

While the Bulls made it difficult for Sacramento to generate offense as easily as they had during the first half, Fox and Monk came up big in crunch time to put the game away for good.

Fox, who drilled a game-winner in Chicago during his last visit to the United Center nearly one year ago, was the hero once again in this one.

‘Swipa’ held true to his nickname by finishing the night with five steals–his second-straight performance with 5+ swipes–to go along with 41 points and four assists on 13-of-24 shooting from the field (five-of-11 from deep).

The star guard became the second Kings player in the Sacramento era (1985-present) to post consecutive stat lines with 25+ points and 5+ steals, joining Hall of Fame guard Mitch Richmond (1997).

Fox delivered for Reign, and the Kings escaped Chicago with a win as they survived a furious comeback effort by a gritty Bulls team.

After scoring 71 points on 62 percent shooting from the field during the first half, Sacramento scored 52 points on 36 percent shooting (28% from three-point range), while Chicago also sealed off the paint (16 points in the second half vs. 34 in the first).

Things could have spiraled out of control late, but the Kings remained in control and knocked down their free throws late (13/15 in the fourth) to secure the win.

It wasn’t perfect, but Sacramento has now won six of their past seven games as they look like a team that is getting hot at an ideal time.

The Bench Steps Up

Malik Monk and Trey Lyles have been integral to Sacramento’s success, as both players have provided the Kings with countless moments off the bench since the start of last season.

During Wednesday’s loss to Miami, the Heat’s bench completely outplayed a stagnant Sacramento second unit as Monk (six points) and Lyles (five points) struggled.

The past two games have been a different story.

Just 24 hours removed from strong showings during Friday’s win over the Indiana Pacers, the Kings’ top reserves stepped up again and gave the offense a boost in Chicago.

Lyles erupted for 15 points of his 16 points during the first half on five-of-six shooting from deep, while Monk helped Sacramento build a big lead early with 14 points and six assists over his first 15 minutes of action.

Monk scored 22 points on seven-of-14 shooting from the field to go along with five boards and seven assists during the win, marking the first time since early January that the Sixth Man of the Year candidate has scored 20+ points in consecutive games.

The Kentucky product was initiating the offense during crunch time as Fox played off ball, and Monk did so well as he finished the night with only one turnover.

Mr. Double (and Triple) Double

Is it even news at this point?

Domantas Sabonis posted his 31st consecutive double-double during the win, as the All-NBA product scored 13 points (six-of-eight shooting), 14 rebounds, and 10 assists over 39 minutes of action.

Sabonis recorded his 14th triple-double of the season, tied for the most during a single season in his career–a mark that he set during the 2022-23 season.

The 27-year-old is tied for the sixth-most triple-doubles in a single season in franchise history.

Sabonis also holds the second-longest overall double-double streak in Kings franchise history, passing Jerry Lucas’ 30-game streak set from Oct. 18-Dec. 22, 1967.

When is the next Sacramento Kings game?

Sacramento’s two-week, seven-game road trip will come to an end on Monday night when the Kings face the red-hot Cleveland Cavaliers.

On November 13th, Sacramento defeated the Cavs by a final of 132-120 at Golden 1 Center thanks to a group effort from the starters as De’Aaron Fox (28 points), Keegan Murray (25 points), Domantas Sabonis (23 points), and Kevin Huerter (20 points) scored 20+ points.

YouTube video

Be sure to tune in right here on Sactown Sports 1140 for all of your Kings vs. Cavs coverage, beginning at 3:30 PM PST on Game Night before a 5:00 PM PST tip-off from Cleveland, Ohio.

Upcoming Schedule

  • Saturday, February 3rd – Sacramento Kings @ Chicago Bulls – 5:00 PM PST
  • Monday, February 5th – Sacramento Kings @ Cleveland Cavaliers – 4:00 PM PST
  • Wednesday, February 7th – Sacramento Kings vs. Detroit Pistons – 7:00 PM PST
  • Friday, February 9th – Sacramento Kings vs. Denver Nuggets – 7:00 PM PST
  • Sunday, February 11th – Sacramento Kings @ Oklahoma City Thunder – 12:00 PM PST

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