SACRAMENTO KINGS

Fox & Monk combine for 52 points as Kings top Nuggets

Dec 2, 2023, 9:46 PM | Updated: 10:13 pm

(Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)

(Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)

On the heels of their most exciting win of the season on Tuesday night, the Sacramento Kings fell flat in the second game of a back-to-back on Wednesday against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Following two consecutive days off, the Kings flipped the script on Saturday against a Denver Nuggets team that was also playing its second game in as many nights.

De’Aaron Fox set a career-high with 16 assists, Domantas Sabonis got back on track, Malik Monk racked up a season-high 26 points, and Sacramento bested the defending champions by a final of 123-117 in front of a sold-out Golden 1 Center.

The Kings (11-7) continue to roll as they have won nine of their past 12 games, including five of their past six on their home floor.

Fox and Monk took over down the final stretch, with Monk scoring 11 in the fourth to go along with Fox’s seven points during the final period as the Kentucky duo did enough to stave off a late comeback from two-time MVP winner Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets.

“That’s nothing new. We’ve been doing that for a little while,” Monk said of his collaboration with his college teammate in Fox.

Monk was huge off the bench for Sacramento, scoring a season-high 26 points on nine-of-14 shooting from the field and four-of-seven from three-point range.

Fox brushed off a slow start on offense to finish with 26 points–15 coming in the second half–to go along with a career-high 16 assists and three steals.

“Being able to come back together and have that kind of success in the NBA is fun,” Fox said postgame when asked how he feels to play alongside his close friend at the highest level. “You enjoy it. You really do enjoy it.”

The All-Star guard’s 16 assists were even more impressive when you factor in the fact that Fox only turned the ball over once.

Fox, who has turned the ball over one time or less in four of his 13 appearances this season, became the first player in the Sacramento era (1985-present) to score 25+ points, pass out 15+ assists, and turn the ball over one or fewer times in a single game.

Not a bad night for the Kings’ star guard, and not a bad way for Sacramento to head into Monday’s win-or-go-home NBA In-Season Tournament quarterfinal.

Kings vs. Nuggets Takeaways

A Huge Second Quarter

The Kings’ offense didn’t look in sync during the first quarter, as Sacramento shot 39 percent from the field while Nikola Jokic (16 first-quarter points) and the Nuggets took an early five-point lead.

In the second quarter, it was all Kings.

Sacramento’s bench unit had a massive hand in jumpstarting the offense, with JaVale McGee providing a boost on both ends of the floor. The veteran center injected life into the lineup–as well as the fans in attendance–as the Kings mounted a 23-7 run with Jokic on the sideline.

McGee swatted two shots and went a perfect four-for-four from the field, while Malik Monk (10 first-half points) was his usual spark plug self against a sluggish Nuggets defense

Sacramento entered the halftime break with a 64-50 lead after shooting 53 percent from the field and 52 percent from three-point range.

Denver appeared to have tired legs on the second night of a back-to-back while shooting 41 percent from the field and missing all nine of its attempts from behind the arc during the first 24 minutes of play.

The Kings did their job by setting the tone early against the defending champions, but they would need to finish strong to secure a big win on their home floor.

Finishing Strong

Denver made its run late in the third quarter, but Sacramento did a solid job of controlling the pace of the game by extending its lead to 10 heading into the fourth.

With Fox and Monk running the show and Domantas Sabonis providing a late charge on the glass and in the paint, the Kings had enough gas in the tank to overcome a monster night from Jokic (36 points, 13 rebounds, 14 assists).

Sacramento’s three-point defense was significant in this one, as the Kings held the Nuggets to six-of-25 (24%) shooting from beyond the arc.

With the game on the line late, Denver couldn’t find a rhythm on offense as they struggled from three and the free-throw line (13-of-20, 65%), as Reggie Jackson’s 12 fourth-quarter points led the way in crunch time.

Sabonis, who finished the night with 17 points, 15 rebounds, and seven assists, scored six points and grabbed seven boards in the fourth–including some big rebounds during the closing minutes–to help put the game away for good.

Notes

In his first game back after missing four straight contests due to lower back soreness, Keegan Murray didn’t score in the first half but opened up the third quarter with eight points. Murray finished with eight points over just 23 minutes of action.

Kevin Huerter knocked down four of his six attempts from three-point range during a 16-point, six-rebound effort. The sharpshooting guard has been lights out from three over the past ten games (43%) while pulling down a career-high 4.7 rebounds per game.

JaVale McGee’s fingerprints were all over this one, as the Defensive Player of the Game finished with eight points (four-of-four shooting) to go along with four rebounds and three blocks.

The Kings went 16-of-34 (47%) from three-point range during the win. Sacramento improved to 5-0 this season when shooting 40 percent or better from deep.

Injury Report

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

Davion Mitchell (non-COVID illness) was inactive on Saturday and is considered day-to-day.

When is the next Sacramento Kings Game?

Single-elimination basketball has arrived!

If Sacramento can defeat the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday night at Golden 1 Center, they will punch their tickets to Las Vegas for the NBA In-Season Tournament Semifinals. A Kings loss would set up a road matchup against the loser of Lakers vs. Suns on Friday.

Be sure to tune in right here on Sactown Sports 1140 for all of your Kings vs. Pelicans 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 4th – Sacramento Kings vs. New Orleans Pelicans – 7:00 PM PST**
  • December 3rd-10th: NBA In-Season Tournament Week (Schedule TBD)
  • 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

** NBA In-Season Tournament Knockout Round

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