SACRAMENTO KINGS

De’Aaron Fox erupts in the clutch, leads Kings to win over Nuggets

Feb 14, 2024, 8:50 PM | Updated: Feb 15, 2024, 7:47 am

PHOENIX, ARIZONA - FEBRUARY 13: De'Aaron Fox #5 of the Sacramento Kings looks on from the bench dur...

(Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

(Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

At a time when the Sacramento Kings sorely needed to get back in the win column, De’Aaron Fox channeled his inner clutch gene at the perfect time.

The reigning Clutch Player of the Year erupted for 15 of his 30 points during the fourth quarter to help the Kings erase a 16-point lead and claim a 102-98 win over the defending champion Denver Nuggets on Tuesday night.

Beating the Nuggets, who entered play with the Western Conference’s best home record (21-4) was one tall task, but the fact that Sacramento was able to do so on the second night of a back-to-back adds a cherry on top to a much-needed win for the Beam Team.

The Kings (31-23) clinched the season series over Denver as they improved to 3-0 in head-to-head matchups in satisfying fashion as they enter the All-Star break on a winning note.

Kings vs. Nuggets Recap & Takeaways

While Sacramento struggled to convert from beyond the three-point line during Tuesday’s loss in Phoenix (29%), the entire offense stalled during the first quarter.

The Kings put themselves in a tough spot early thanks to an ice-cold start from the field, as Sacramento scored just 16 points on seven-of-26 (27%) shooting from the field and two-of-11 (18%) from three-point range.

While the Kings struggled to find a rhythm on the offensive end, Denver used a strong start from Aaron Gordon (14 points and nine rebounds during the first half) as the Nuggets led by as many as 15 points before the break.

Sacramento’s offense knocked off some rust during the second quarter, but they would enter the second half trailing 53-41 after shooting 34 percent from the field and three-of-15 (20%) from downtown over the first 24 minutes of play.

Along with a poor shooting performance, the Kings turned the ball over 11 times as Denver continued to pressure a Sacramento team that looked lost.

At long last, the Kings broke through during the third quarter as Sacramento outscored the Nuggets 30-21 during the period thanks to notable contributions from Domantas Sabonis, Harrison Barnes, and Kevin Huerter.

Not only did Sacramento shoot 48 percent from the field during the third, but they also held Denver to eight-of-21 (38%) shooting from the field while bringing themselves back into position to win the game.

For the second time in as many nights, a game would come down to crunch time for the Kings–and this time, they would not be denied.

Fox was the catalyst for Sacramento down the final stretch, scoring ten straight points to help the Kings take the lead and create space during the game’s closing minutes as the Nuggets turned into a team that could not find a rhythm on offense.

As we have seen countless times during his NBA career, Fox turned the jets on and became unstoppable in the clutch to lead his team to a much-needed win–especially following the late-game blunders that resulted in a narrow loss to the Phoenix Suns 24 hours prior.

Fox finished the night with 30 points (15 in the fourth quarter) on 12-of-26 shooting to go along with eight rebounds, eight assists, and two steals over 39 minutes in what was a second-straight impressive effort for the star guard following a four-game stretch of sub-20-point performances.

With Fox locking in on offense and Harrison Barnes upping his scoring output during the second half (20 points on 6/9 shooting for the game), Sacramento didn’t need much more scoring thanks to an increased effort on the defensive end.

After being outscored 53-41 during the first half, the Kings took the Nuggets’ offense out of the game during the final two quarters while outscoring the reigning champs 61-45.

Denver converted just 39 percent of its field goal attempts during the second half, while Sacramento turned the corner and attacked the paint (outscored the Nuggets 56-40) to bring themselves back from a 16-point deficit.

The Kings also limited their mistakes during the second half after turning the ball over 11 times during the first two periods, as Sacramento only suffered three turnovers after the halftime break.

Good teams make mid-game adjustments, and the Kings reminded viewers that even though they have experienced a recent rough patch, they have enough talent and experience to turn games around following a poor start.

As Sacramento enters the All-Star break, they will have a chance to rest up for the stretch run on a high-note after picking up an impressive bounce-back win over one of the best teams in the NBA.

Notes

Domantas Sabonis posted his 37th straight double-double on Wednesday—the longest such streak since Kevin Love posted 53 consecutive double-doubles during the 2010-11 season: 20 PTS | 13 REB | 7 AST | 9/16 FG | 33 MIN

Sacramento snapped a three-game losing streak in Denver, winning at Ball Arena for the first time since Buddy Hield’s game-winning tip-in on opening night in 2020.

Injury Updates

Sasha Vezenkov will sidelined for an extended period due to a Grade 3 right ankle sprain. Vezenkov suffered the injury during practice on Saturday. The Kings announced on Tuesday that Vezenkov will be re-evaluated in four-to-six weeks.

When is the next Sacramento Kings game?

Sacramento will enter the All-Star break looking to rest and recover for the final stretch of the regular season.

Once the Kings return from the week-long break, they will face rookie sensation Victor Wembanyama and the San Antonio Spurs–owner of the worst record in the Western Conference–on Thursday, February 22nd, at Golden 1 Center.

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

Upcoming Schedule

  • NBA All-Star break – February 15-21
  • Thursday, February 22nd – Sacramento Kings vs. San Antonio Spurs – 7:00 PM PST
  • Sunday, February 25th – Sacramento Kings @ Los Angeles Clippers – 6:30 PM PST
  • Monday, February 26th – Sacramento Kings vs. Miami Heat – 7:00 PM PST
  • Wednesday, February 28th – Sacramento Kings @ Denver Nuggets – 6:00 PM PST
  • Friday, March 1st – Sacramento Kings @ Minnesota Timberwolves – 5:00 PM PST

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