De’Aaron Fox drops 41 as Kings outlast SGA, Thunder

Dec 14, 2023, 9:55 PM | Updated: Dec 15, 2023, 12:17 am

(Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)

(Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)

In a matchup that featured two All-Star guards playing at the top of their game, only one could walk away victorious on Thursday night.

De’Aaron Fox and the Sacramento Kings shook off a brutal performance against the Los Angeles Clippers and tapped back into their red-hot three-point shooting during a 128-123 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Fox, who scored 41 points–his third 40+ point performance of the season –nearly matched a 43-point outing from fellow All-Star talent Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in one of the more exciting guard showdowns you’ll see in today’s NBA.

With the win, Sacramento (14-9) picked up another home win to open up its six-game homestand as they improved to 8-3 on their own hardwood.

Kings vs. Thunder Takeaways

An All-Star Showdown

If you tuned into Kings vs. Thunder hoping to see two of the best guards in the NBA go full-tilt, you were in luck on Thursday night.

De’Aaron Fox and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander put on a show in this one, as both guards neared the 30-point mark before play entered the fourth quarter.

While Gilgeous-Alexander, a top-five MVP candidate so far this year, did his damage in the paint, Fox acted as a threat from beyond the arc as the guard continued to prove that his three-point shooting improvements are here to stay.

Fox, who knocked down three or more triples for the fourth straight game (seventh over his past nine contests), converted his fifth long ball of the night during the closing seconds of the third quarter to give himself 30 points and Sacramento a 100-92 lead heading into the fourth.

The reigning Clutch Player of the Year continued his fourth-quarter dominance as Fox scored 11 of his 41 points during the final period while dishing out three of his seven assists during the process.

It was another historic performance for Fox, who tied DeMarcus Cousins for the most 40+ point games in the Sacramento era (1985-present) and jumped into fourth on the franchise record list behind Oscar Robertson (77), Tiny Archibald (37), and Jack Twyman (16).

There’s a good chance we’ll see more of these kinds of nights from Fox, who will turn only 26 years old next Wednesday.

Malik Keeps Cooking

Malik Monk has been on an absolute tear over the past month, which continued on Thursday.

Monk, who entered play averaging 16.0 points and 4.4 assists on 48 percent shooting from the field and 49 percent from beyond the arc, got off to a very fast start to jumpstart the Kings’ offense in the first half.

The Sixth Man of the Year candidate continued to show off his playmaking skill set by dishing out six assists during 16 first-half minutes. Monk also scored 10 points on four-of-five shooting from the field and two-of-three from deep to lead Sacramento’s scoring charge off the bench.

In the second half, Monk continued his efficient play on the offensive end–and even picked up the first charge of his Kings career–to help Sacramento create separation down the closing stretch.

Monk finished the night with 18 points on four-of-eight shooting from downtown while passing out nine assists and blocking one shot over 33 minutes–his tenth game with 10+ points and 5+ assists this season.

While Monk has been playing the backup two spot, he has continued to act as the Kings’ third primary playmaker behind Domantas Sabonis and De’Aaron Fox.

The Kentucky product has dished out five or more assists in five straight games–the longest streak of his NBA career.

The Rise of Keon

Keon Ellis is making a legitimate case for a full roster spot.

The two-way guard continues to make an impact as Sacramento’s backup point guard, with Thursday’s game being the best of the 23-year-old’s young NBA career.

Ellis displayed his three-point skillset as the second-year guard racked up a career-high 17 points on five-of-seven shooting from deep to go along with four rebounds, three assists, and one steal over 24 minutes.

Although Sacramento signed former Golden State Warriors forward Juan Toscano-Anderson to fill the team’s 15th and final full roster spot on Thursday, Ellis could apply pressure to general manager Monte McNair and head coach Mike Brown if he continues to perform well in a reserve role.

“I guess it could be, but I don’t know,” Ellis said when asked if his career night was a breakthrough performance. “I just try to go out and play the same game every night. My confidence is definitely high, regardless of whether I have a game like this or not.”

Two-way players are eligible to suit up for a maximum of 50 games during a regular season, meaning that the Kings will have to decide on Ellis sometime in February if he is to remain on the roster.

Sabonis Controls The Glass

Domantas Sabonis fared well against rookie big Chet Holmgren when these two teams met last month, and the All-Star center continued to perform well on Thursday.

Sabonis finished the night with 18 points, 16 rebounds (game-high), and seven assists while shooting eight-of-14 from the field over 40 minutes.

The All-NBA center posted his 19th double-double of the season–the third-most in the NBA behind only Nikola Jokic and Anthony Davis.

Thanks to Sabonis’ presence in the paint, the Kings battled back from a rough first on the glass (OKC out-rebounded Sacramento 15-10) to win the battle of the boards 47-43, including 11 offensive rebounds that turned into 22 second-chance points.

Sabonis, who has posted 15-15-5 in a game on six occasions this season, only trails Jokic (7) for the NBA lead.

“I think we take for granted a little bit what he does,” Fox said of his center following the win.

”I think being able to get 18, 16 and seven—I don’t know how many times he’s done it, but I’m pretty sure he’s done it a good amount of times. That’s not a normal game.”

When is the next Sacramento Kings game?

Sacramento will continue its six-game home stand on Saturday night when they face the Utah Jazz for the first time since opening night.

Harrison Barnes’ season-high 32 points led the Kings to a 130-114 win over the Jazz in Salt Lake City on October 25th. Sacramento has won four of their past five games against Utah since the start of last season.

Be sure to tune in right here on Sactown Sports 1140 for all of your Kings vs. Jazz coverage, beginning at 5:30 PM PST on Game Night before a 7:00 PM PST tip-off from Golden 1 Center.

Upcoming Schedule

  • Saturday, December 16th – Sacramento Kings vs. Utah Jazz – 7:00 PM PST
  • Monday, December 18th – Sacramento Kings vs. Washington Wizards – 7:00 PM PST
  • Wednesday, December 20th – Sacramento Kings vs. Boston Celtics – 7:00 PM PST
  • Friday, December 22nd – Sacramento Kings vs. Phoenix Suns – 7:00 PM PST
  • Saturday, December 23rd – Sacramento Kings vs. Minnesota Timberwolves – 7:00 PM PST

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