SACRAMENTO KINGS

Fox comes up big in the 4th as Kings hold on to beat Spurs

Feb 22, 2024, 9:53 PM | Updated: 10:04 pm

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - JANUARY 12: De'Aaron Fox #5 of the Sacramento Kings looks on against t...

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

The playoff push is officially underway.

It was a packed house at Golden 1 Center on Thursday night as the Sacramento Kings returned from the All-Star break for a matchup against the owner of the worst record in the Western Conference, the San Antonio Spurs.

Unlike previous let-downs at home this season against some of the NBA’s worst teams, the Kings did enough down the closing stretch to get away with a 127-122 win in front of a sellout crowd.

At this point in the season, teams in the NBA Playoff race need wins any way they can get them, and Sacramento (32-23) executed in crunch time thanks to another clutch close-out effort from De’Aaron Fox, who appears to have turned a corner following a rough stretch earlier this month.

With the win, the Kings pulled within a half-game of the sixth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference standings.

One down, 27 to go.

Kings vs. Spurs Recap & Takeaways

It was clear early that Domantas Sabonis’ performance wouldn’t be impacted by an illness that held him out of Wednesday’s practice.

The three-time All-Star helped Sacramento set the tone early by attacking Spurs big man Victor Wembanyama in the paint (12 points on 6/7 shooting) as the Kings took a 65-57 lead into the halftime break.

While San Antonio carried a steady flow on offense during the first two quarters of action (50% FG, 50% 3PT), Sacramento’s defense locked in toward the end of the half to create some space on the scoreboard.

It was a complete effort for the Kings during the first half, with Sabonis leading the charge in the paint and Kevin Huerter catching fire from three-point range (14 points on 4/5 shooting from deep). De’Aaron Fox also found a rhythm early–both as a scorer and distributor–as the star guard’s six assists helped Sacramento’s offense run like a well-oiled machine.

The Kings turned the ball over just three times during the first half while handing out 17 assists, but there was more work to be done if the ‘Beam Team’ wanted to open up the playoff push with a winning effort.

It seemed as if Sacramento was on the verge of pulling away for good in the third quarter as the Kings pushed their lead to 11 points towards the end of the period, but a motivated Spurs team responded at the right time to trim the deficit to six heading into the fourth.

As was the case during Sacramento’s last game before the break in Denver, the fourth quarter belonged to De’Aaron Fox on Thursday night. Fox came up huge in the clutch on both ends of the floor, but especially during the final two minutes of play to help the Kings erase a late deficit and get away with a win.

With Sacramento staring at a four-point deficit as the clock dwindled under two minutes, Fox followed up a Malik Monk jumper with a triple of his own to give the Kings a one-point lead. Moments later, Fox pushed the ball in transition and found a soaring Keegan Murray for an alley-oop–his ninth assist of the night.

On San Antonio’s next possession, Fox came away with his most significant contribution of the night.

The Spurs had one last shot at keeping the game within reach as they trailed 123-120 with less than a minute to go. After getting beat backdoor by Spurs guard Devin Vassell, Fox recovered and stripped Vassell on the way to the basket for a game-sealing block that sent Golden 1 Center into a frenzy.

On the other end of the floor, Fox knocked down a mid-range jumper that put the game away for good as the reigning Clutch Player of the Year came through in crunch time once again.

“That was a ridiculous play. Only a handful of guys in the league can make that play,” Kings guard Kevin Huerter said of Fox’s huge stop. “Just a crazy defensive play.”

Fox, who scored 11 of his 28 points during the fourth quarter, said he wasn’t surprised that he could track down Vassell after initially getting beat at the beginning of the play.

“I wasn’t surprised, no,” Fox said postgame. “I feel confident in my recovery speed.”

It was another complete effort for Fox, who finished the night with 28 points (12-of-18 shooting), five rebounds, nine assists, and two steals over 37 minutes–his third-straight game with 28+ points.

Best of the Rest

Domantas Sabonis might have been feeling under the weather on Thursday, but you wouldn’t know it.

Sabonis posted his league-leading 19th triple-double during the win, scoring 22 points (11-of-15 shooting) to go along with 11 rebounds and 11 assists over 33 minutes.

It was another impressive performance for Sabonis, who posted his 38th consecutive double-double–the longest such streak since Kevin Love did so in 53-straight games during the 2010-11 season.

Along with Sabonis, Kevin Huerter helped carry the scoring load against San Antonio as ‘Red Velvet’ continued to light it up from three-point range. The sharp-shooting guard knocked down five of his eight attempts from downtown en route to a 21-point night–his best scoring output since racking up a career-high 31 points on January 18th.

Lastly, Malik Monk scored 21 points (eight of 15 shooting) off the bench in what was the Sixth Man of the Year candidate’s 19th game with 20+ points this season–the most of all NBA reserves.

Notes

  • Sacramento holds an 8-0 record this season when De’Aaron Fox hands out eight or more assists

When is the next Sacramento Kings game?

Sacramento will board a short flight to Los Angeles this weekend as they will play the first game of a road-home-back-to-back against the Clippers at crypto.com Arena.

The Clippers have had the Kings’ number this season, as Los Angeles has secured the first two regular-season matchups by an average of 17 points per contest.

Be sure to tune in right here on Sactown Sports 1140 for all of your Kings vs. Clippers coverage, beginning at 5:00 PM PST on Game Night before a 6:30 PM PST tip-off from downtown Los Angeles.

Upcoming Schedule

  • 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
  • Monday, March 4th – Sacramento Kings vs. Chicago Bulls – 7:00 PM PST

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