De’Aaron Fox erupts in 4th quarter as Kings beat Suns

Dec 8, 2023, 8:31 PM | Updated: 9:04 pm

PHOENIX, ARIZONA - DECEMBER 08: De'Aaron Fox #5 of the Sacramento Kings drives to the basket agains...

(Photo by Kelsey Grant/Getty Images)

(Photo by Kelsey Grant/Getty Images)

It seemed as if De’Aaron Fox was on his way to an unideal performance during Friday night’s game in Phoenix, Arizona.

Then, the game entered the fourth quarter.

The NBA’s reigning Clutch Player of the Year put the Sacramento Kings on his back during the final 12 minutes of a 114-106 win over the Phoenix Suns, as Fox scored 23 (career-high for points scored in the fourth quarter) of his 34 points in the fourth to lead his team to victory.

Fox, who entered a tie for the NBA lead with his eighth 10+ point fourth quarter of the season, was the driving force for Sacramento late on a night that started off rough for the Kings offense.

With the win, Sacramento (12-8) bounced back from Monday’s NBA In-Season Tournament loss to New Orleans and claimed its best 20-game start since the 2004-05 season when the Kings were 14-6.

The game was up for grabs in the second half, but Fox’s valiant closing effort gave Sacramento a much-needed win over a shorthanded Suns team on Friday night.

Here’s how the Kings secured its 12th win of the season in Arizona.

Kings vs. Suns Takeaways

Here We Go Again

Upon first glance at Friday’s injury report, you would think a Kings win would come easy with Phoenix missing Kevin Durant (ankle sprain), Bradley Beal (lower back soreness), and Grayson Allen (groin strain).

Of course, if you’ve watched Sacramento Kings basketball over the past three to four seasons, you already know that this franchise–for whatever reason–struggles to win games against shorthanded teams.

While two of the Suns’ three stars were sidelined, Devin Booker quickly made it clear that Phoenix wasn’t going to make things easy for the Kings in this one.

Booker scored 18 points during the first half while helping drive a 15-3 run that ended the second half as the Suns took a 59-50 lead into the break.

During Monday’s loss to New Orleans, three-point shooting came back to bite Sacramento as the Kings went seven-for-30 (23%) during the final three quarters after starting the game seven-of-11 (63%) during the first period.

The struggles continued for Sacramento early, as the Kings finished the first half six-of-24 (25%) from beyond the arc.

Thanks to strong play from the bench, including nine first-half points from Sasha Vezenkov, the game remained within reach at the break while De’Aaron Fox struggled to find his rhythm on offense.

With Booker and veteran guard Eric Gordon (14 first-half points) leading the way, Phoenix had the Kings in a nine-point hole entering the second half, with Sacramento continuing to try and shoot through the struggles to no avail.

The Offense Wakes Up

If you were wondering when the Kings offense would wake up, look no further than the third quarter.

The shots began to fall for Sacramento in the third as the Kings shook off a rough start from three by knocking down four of their six attempts from three-point land during the period.

Thanks to strong play from backup guard Keon Ellis, Malik Monk, and the rest of Sacramento’s bench, the Kings outscored the Suns 33-12 while holding Phoenix to six-of-23 (26%) shooting from the field during the third.

Once the dust settled at the end of the third quarter, a once-lethargic Sacramento offense had taken an 83-71 lead heading into the fourth.

As much as the Kings ended the third on a high note, Booker and the Suns punched back to begin the final quarter.

Booker and Phoenix applied pressure to Sacramento early in the period by trimming the deficit to six points with six minutes to go.

Once the game was back in reach for the Suns, Fox decided to kick things into overdrive and put the game away for good.

After Phoenix cut the deficit to 96-90, Fox scored seven straight points to give the Kings some breathing room. Shortly after that seven-point stretch, Fox put the game away for good after burying a triple to give Sacramento a 112-98 lead with just over a minute to go.

With the game on the line late, Fox did what he does best and delivered the knockout punch for the ‘Beam Team.’

Fox finished the night with 34 points on 11-of-24 shooting, four-of-seven from three-point range, and eight-of-ten from the free-throw line to go along with four rebounds and seven assists over 35 minutes.

The 25-year-old continues to prove that he is turning into one of the NBA’s premier scorers, and games like Friday are what matter most–when the shots aren’t falling early, but he still is able to find a way to get the job done.

A Big Night From The Bench

This one might have gotten ugly early if it wasn’t for the second unit.

Before Fox’s late-game heroics, Sacramento’s bench was a staple in keeping things close as Sasha Vezenkov, Malik Monk, and Keon Ellis had big moments on Phoenix.

Vezenkov established a new career-high with 14 points on five-of-seven shooting from the field and two-of-three from three-point land while grabbing three rebounds and swiping three steals.

The reigning EuroLeague MVP looks more comfortable with each passing game, as he isn’t acting as just a spot-up threat in the corner. Vezenkov is active off the ball and had a sequence featuring back-to-back scores off of cuts in another impressive outing for the Bulgarian forward.

Vezenkov got a hand from Malik Monk during the win, as the Sixth Man of the Year candidate scored 13 points–his seventh-straight game with ten or more points–on five-of-10 shooting to go along with six assists over 28 minutes.

Getting contributions from Vezenkov and Monk is almost expected at this point, but what Keon Ellis did has fans wondering if we might see the two-way guard converted to a full roster spot in the near future.

Ellis scored 10 points while knocking down four of his six attempts from the field (two of three from deep) during 17 minutes of action.

The second-year guard has done an admirable job of backup up Fox, and his non-stop hustle on both ends of the floor has put hin in head coach Mike Brown’s circle of trust.


Domantas Sabonis posted another double-double during the win–his 16th out of 20 games played this season. The All-Star scored 15 points, grabbed 17 rebounds, and handed out five assists over 38 minutes. Sabonis has posted 15-15-5 on four occasions this season, trailing only Nikola Jokic (6).

The Kings pulled down 15 offensive rebounds on Friday, tying their season high (11/10 vs. OKC). Those 15 offensive boards turned into 16 second-chance points, while the Suns finished with six second-chance points on eight offensive rebounds.

Sacramento improved to 9-1 this season when shooting 35% or higher from three-point land.

The Kings outscored Phoenix 64-47 during the second half while shooting 54% FG and eight-of-16 from deep.

Injury Report

Chris Duarte (left knee soreness) was listed as questionable leading into Friday’s game but was cleared to play before the Kings took the floor.

Colby Jones was ruled out due to lower back soreness and is considered day-to-day.

Alex Len (right ankle sprain) will be sidelined for two to four weeks with a high ankle sprain.

When is the next Sacramento Kings game?

Sacramento will return home on Monday night for a matchup against Mikal Bridges and the Brooklyn Nets at Golden 1 Center.

The Kings’ matchup against the Nets will be just their second game against an Eastern Conference team this season (Cleveland on November 13th).

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

Upcoming Schedule

  • Monday, December 11th – Sacramento Kings vs. Brooklyn Nets – 7:00 PM PST
  • Tuesday, December 12th – Sacramento Kings @ Los Angeles Clippers – 7:30 PM PST
  • Thursday, December 14th – Sacramento Kings vs. Oklahoma City Thunder – 7:00 PM PST
  • Saturday, December 16th – Sacramento Kings vs. Utah Jazz – 7:00 PM PST
  • Monday, December 18th – Sacramento Kings vs. Washington Wizards – 7:00 PM PST

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