SACRAMENTO KINGS

Fox, Kings erase 23-point deficit to stun Hawks

Dec 29, 2023, 7:05 PM | Updated: 7:27 pm

(Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images)

(Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images)

De’Aaron Fox is a three-point shooter now. That’s a fact.

Fox set a career-high for made three-point field goals in a second-straight game during the Sacramento Kings’ thrilling 117-110 comeback win over the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night.

The Kings trailed by as many as 23 points and didn’t hold a lead until the 5:48 mark of the fourth quarter, but it didn’t matter in the end as Fox’s late-game heroics and an impressive defensive effort during the second half put Sacramento (18-12) ahead for good during the final minutes.

It wasn’t a fun start for the Kings, but they were able to turn things around and steal a win from the Hawks–a much-needed victory on the heels of a disappointing start to the road trip on Tuesday in Portland.

Fox continued to prove why he is one of the best scorers in the game today, Domantas Sabonis acted as an anchor in the post, and the bench came through to lead Sacramento to its 18th win of the season and snap a two-game losing skid.

With the win, the Kings defeated Atlanta on their home floor for the first time since November 8, 2019.

Kings vs. Hawks Takeaways

Picking Up Where They Left Off

Tuesday night’s 130-113 loss in Portland was viewed as the worst loss of the season by many, and Sacramento picked up right where they left off during the first quarter of Friday’s game in Atlanta.

After shooting 10-of-42 (23%) from three-point range against the Trail Blazers, the Kings continued to live and die by the three early against Atlanta. The three-point shooting woes continued for Sacramento in the first, and the Hawks took advantage of the struggles by mounting a 23-point lead during the first 12 minutes of action.

The Kings finished the first quarter two-of-11 (18%) from three-point range, but Malik Monk (seven points) and Trey Lyles (six points) provided Sacramento with a boost off the bench to trim the deficit to 36-23 heading into the second.

If the Kings wanted to end a two-game losing streak, they would have to play a lot better during the final three periods–especially against a Hawks defense that has allowed opponents to shoot 38.3% from three-point range this season (26th in the NBA).

Living & Dying By The 3

Atlanta might possess one of the worst three-point defenses in the NBA, but it didn’t matter during the first half of Friday’s game.

Sacramento continued to live and die by the long ball as they finished the first half seven-of-25 (28%) from beyond the arc. The Hawks, who entered play ranked fifth in the NBA regarding three-point field goal attempts, lit it up from three by knocking down 10 of their first 20 attempts.

After trimming the deficit down to five, the Kings’ defense struggled as Dejounte Murray (16 first-half points on four-of-five from deep) helped Atlanta push the lead to 18 points heading into the break.

Sacramento might have been down by more than 18 points following the first half without contributions from its bench.

Malik Monk (13 points) and Trey Lyles (12 points) acted as the Kings’ primary contributors on offense during the first two quarters of play, while the starters combined to score 24 points on 11-of-26 (42%) shooting, with Domantas Sabonis scoring 12 of those points.

The third quarter finally saw Sacramento find the bottom of the net from deep as the Kings went five-of-11 from beyond the arc to trim Atlanta’s lead to single digits.

De’Aaron Fox had a considerable hand in bringing the Kings back from a large deficit by knocking down three of his six attempts from three as Sacramento entered the fourth quarter trailing by just five points.

Although the Kings had looked awful on both ends of the floor for most of the night, they were in a position to steal a win from the Hawks. All that stood between themselves and a win was the fourth quarter.

Who would step up in crunch time?

Star Things From A Star Duo

Who else did you expect to step up with the game on the line?

Fox continued to prove that his three-point shooting is very much real as the All-Star guard set a career-high with eight made three-pointers during the win–just one game removed from setting a career-high with seven made triples on Tuesday in Portland.

The speedy guard scored 13 of his 31 points during the fourth quarter as the Hawks struggled to create on their end of the floor.

With Fox locked in from three-point range and Domantas Sabonis shouldering the load in the paint, Sacramento was finally firing on all cylinders late as they took their first lead of the night midway through the fourth.

Fox was the leading charge in this one, but Sabonis chipped in with six points late to help put the game away.

In the end, Fox finished the night with 31 points (10-of-20 shooting), six rebounds, eight assists, and four steals to go along with an eight-for-16 performance from three-point land.

Sabonis posted his 26th double-double of the season during the win while scoring 25 points (12-of-17 shooting), 10 rebounds, and seven assists over 35 minutes.

An Inspiring Turnaround

The Kings were abysmal on the defensive end during the first half. There isn’t much else you can say other than they looked awful.

Atlanta scored 71 points on 50 percent shooting from the field and 10-of-20 shooting from three-point range en route to taking an 18-point lead into the break.

The second half was a different story.

Sacramento held the Hawks to just 39 points during the second half–the least amount of points allowed in a single half dating back to last season–as Atlanta’s success from beyond the arc waned.

The Hawks shot just 29 percent from the field and five-of-23 from deep (21%) as the Kings finally gave fans a reason to feel optimistic about a defensive unit that has looked unstable since last season.

After falling out of the rotation in light of Keon Ellis’ emergence as a backup point guard option, head coach Mike Brown called on Davion Mitchell during Friday’s game to give the Kings an increased sense of physicality on the defensive end.

Mitchell came up huge for Sacramento during the win, drawing two charges and forcing the Hawks into several turnovers during his 13 minutes of action.

Joining Mitchell off the bench was Malik Monk and Trey Lyles, who both had big scoring nights to help aid Fox and Sabonis on that end of the floor.

Monk shook off a couple of rough games to finish the night with 15 points and eight assists, while Lyles racked up a season-high 19 points on seven-of-12 shooting while grabbing six boards over 25 minutes.

During Tuesday’s loss to the Blazers, Fox and Sabonis combined to score 77 points while no other member of Sacramento’s roster finished with more than nine points.

Thanks to Lyles and Monk, that wouldn’t be the case on Friday night.

Injury Update

Kevin Huerter (left hand) exited the game during the second half and did not return. It’s currently unknown what Huerter’s status will be heading into Sunday’s game in Memphis, but it’s fair to assume the guard will be considered day-to-day.

When is the next Sacramento Kings game?

Goodbye, 2023!

Sacramento will play its final game of 2023 on Sunday evening when they face recently-returned Ja Morant and the Grizzlies in Memphis.

Be sure to tune in to Sactown Sports 1140 for all of your Kings vs. Grizzlies coverage, beginning at 3:30 PM PST on Game Night before a 5:00 PM PST tip-off from Memphis.

Upcoming Schedule

  • Sunday, December 31st – Sacramento Kings @ Memphis Grizzlies – 5:00 PM PST
  • Tuesday, January 2nd – Sacramento Kings vs. Charlotte Hornets – 7:00 PM PST
  • Wednesday, January 3rd – Sacramento Kings vs. Orlando Magic – 7:00 PM PST
  • Friday, January 5th – Sacramento Kings vs. Toronto Raptors – 7:00 PM PST
  • Sunday, January 7th – Sacramento Kings vs. New Orleans Pelicans – 3:00 PM PST

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