SACRAMENTO KINGS

De’Aaron Fox sets the tone in Sacramento’s best defensive showing

Feb 26, 2024, 1:08 PM | Updated: 1:10 pm

James Harden #1 of the Los Angeles Clippers brings the ball up court against De'Aaron Fox #5 of the...

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 25: James Harden #1 of the Los Angeles Clippers brings the ball up court against De'Aaron Fox #5 of the Sacramento Kings during the second quarter at Crypto.com Arena on February 25, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. The Sacramento Kings defeated the Los Angeles Clippers 123-107. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

(Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

Coming into Sunday night’s matchup at Crypto.com Arena, the Sacramento Kings were 0-2 against the Los Angeles Clippers and looking to stay alive in the season series. De’Aaron Fox led the way defensively at the point of attack, and they snuck away with a win thanks to their efforts on that side of the ball.

Although Paul George was unavailable, Los Angeles’s offensive talent is undeniable. With added priority on Sacramento’s three-point defense as of late, they faced a notable test against a Clippers team among the league’s best at shooting from beyond the arc.

Holding them to under 30 percent from three (8/27) was essential en route to a 123-107 victory, especially considering the Clippers average 13 made triples per night.

“I think it was one of our more complete games on both sides of the basketball that we’ve had,” Harrison Barnes told reporters in Los Angeles postgame.

“I think that’s been a big challenge for us, just being consistent. We can do it for a quarter, we can do it for three quarters, but putting together that consistent game that we did today is something that we’ve struggled with, so it was good to kind of get over that hump and do that.”

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All five of their defensive staples factor into every matchup, but their physicality and multiple efforts stood out Sunday night, starting with Fox.

Defending James Harden for most of the game, he was a consistent defensive presence. Being at the point of attack comes with a certain sense of responsibility, being at the start of the action to set the tone for your teammates — and Fox did just that.

Harrison Barnes, who won the Defensive Player of the Game crown for his efforts on Kawhi Leonard, is in his sixth season with the Kings, with Fox having being around for his entire tenure. In Barnes’s 373rd game playing for California’s capital, he thought it may have been the best defensive effort from the All-NBA guard that he’s seen.

“For me to be the player that I want to be, and my coaches think I can be, and for us to be the team that we want to be, it starts on the defensive end,” Fox said. “I want to be one of those guys who can get it done on the offensive end and also do those types of things on the defensive end.”

Sacramento head coach Mike Brown often recalls his first time meeting a young, teenage De’Aaron Fox at a basketball camp years ago and the two-way potential he possessed. “I thought he could be an elite, elite two-way guy (then), and he definitely showed the ability tonight,” he said. Now, that is starting to become a more consistent reality.

It went beyond Fox, however. As previously mentioned, Barnes was excellent on Leonard. Davion Mitchell and Chris Duarte made their presence felt off the bench.

Keegan Murray fought hard and rebounded well. Kevin Huerter was moving on a string with his teammates, swinging around the perimeter to close out on shooters. Domantas Sabonis battled with Ivica Zubac and dominated on the glass en route to yet another triple-double.

The Kings want to win a championship and have not backed off that goal. Offensively, they are more than capable, but they must continue putting together consistent defensive showings if they hope to inch closer to that reality. Sunday night’s win in Los Angeles was an encouraging step in that direction.

“If we can guard like this, I think we’ll be in a good spot,” De’Aaron Fox said.

With him being the head of the snake at the point of attack, it starts with the tone the seventh-year guard sets night in and night out.

When is the next Sacramento Kings game?

Sacramento will complete the road-home back-to-back on Monday night when they face the Miami Heat at Golden 1 Center.

On January 31st, the Kings dropped a hard-fought contest in South Beach that saw Miami escape with a 115-106 win thanks to 31 points from Jimmy Butler and 24 points off the bench from Josh Richardson.

Keegan Murray racked up 33 points on seven-of-11 shooting from three-point range during the loss.

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

Upcoming Schedule

  • 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
  • Monday, March 4th – Sacramento Kings vs. Chicago Bulls – 7:00 PM PST
  • Wednesday, March 6th – Sacramento Kings @ Los Angeles Lakers – 7:30 PM PST

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