SACRAMENTO KINGS

Mr. Fourth Quarter: De’Aaron Fox scores 22 points in fourth, hits game-winner in Kings win

Jan 3, 2023, 9:09 PM | Updated: Jan 4, 2023, 8:38 am
De'Aaron Fox #5 of the Sacramento Kings dunks over Jarred Vanderbilt #8 of the Utah Jazz during the...
(Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
(Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

When games have been close this season, De’Aaron Fox often does his best work.

After scoring 10 points or more during the fourth quarter in four of the past five games, Fox was called on again late as the Sacramento Kings battled it out against the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City on Tuesday night.

Shot after shot, Fox kept the Kings out in front before a questionable foul call on Keegan Murray sent Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen to the line for three game-tying free throws.

With the game tied at 115-115 and 15 seconds on the clock, Fox dribbled down to the other end of the floor, made his move toward the basket, and laid in the game-winning basket to give Sacramento another nail-biting win over Utah–this time by a final of 117-115.

Fox scored 22 of his 37 points during the fourth quarter, becoming the first Kings player to score 22 points or more in a single period since Marcus Thornton did so back on January 24, 2014.

Not even one game removed from Friday night’s classic between these two teams at Golden 1 Center, the Kings and Jazz delivered another game-of-the-year candidate at Vivint Arena.

With the win, Sacramento (20-16) secured its 20th win of the season, becoming the first Kings team to pick up its 20th win on January 3rd or earlier since the 2003-04 season (December 23rd).

The Kings set the tone early on both ends of the floor as they led by as many as 14 points during the first quarter, but they would run into problems during the second period. Turnovers slowed the Kings’ offense and allowed Utah to keep things close, but De’Aaron Fox and Harrison Barnes combined to end the half on a 6-0 run to stretch the lead to 60-51 entering the break.

Utah punched back in a big way during the third quarter as they outscored Sacramento 38-28 behind strong efforts from Markkanen (11 points in the third) and Jordan Clarkson (10 points in the third). The Kings, who seemed to be on the verge of blowing things open all night long, found themselves entering the fourth quarter trailing 89-88.

Then, it was De’Aaron Fox time.

Fox scored 22 of Sacramento’s 29 points during the fourth quarter while knocking down–and hammering in–big shot after big shot. The talented guard finished the quarter nine-of-10 from the field and once again proved that he deserves to be in Salt Lake City for February’s NBA All-Star game.

There would be some drama that nearly erased Fox’s massive fourth quarter, as Markkanen appeared to drill a game-winning triple by the Kings bench with 0.4 seconds remaining, but the shot was waved off after further review.

Between Markkanen’s near-game-winner, an egregious call against KZ Okpala on Clarkson, and a questionable foul call on Keegan Murray that resulted in game-tying free-throws, it’s safe to say that the ball didn’t lie on Tuesday night.

A win is a win for the Kings, even if it’s shrouded in officiating controversies.

Fox was the story of the night, as it’s clear that his nagging foot injury is a thing of the past. His closing effort has been impressive to many, but teammate Domantas Sabonis said it best postgame, De’Aaron Fox is simply amazing.

“He’s amazing. The fourth quarter is his quarter. I kept telling him, ‘We need you, we need you, turn up, turn up’. My job is to get him open,” Sabonis said of Fox’s massive closing effort. “Once I saw that confidence, I was like, ‘Oh, it’s over. We won.'”

Sabonis complimented Fox’s huge night with another double-double–his NBA-leading 27th of the season. The big man finished the night with 21 points (eight-of-14 shooting from the field), 14 rebounds, and eight assists over 39 minutes.

The 26-year-old has posted 10+ points, 10+ rebounds, and 5+ assists in a single game 23 times this year. Chris Webber holds the Sacramento era (1985-present) record for most 10-10-5 games in a single season (31 times in 2002-03).

Sabonis might set a new Sac-era record before the All-Star break, even while playing with a broken thumb. What Sabonis is doing on a nightly basis–with one healthy hand–is nothing short of incredible, but it’s just all in a hard day’s work for the Lithuanian center.

It will be a quick turnaround for the Kings as they will face the Atlanta Hawks at Golden 1 Center on Wednesday night, but you can bet that the team flight back home will be a fun one after this team’s latest thrilling win.

If you can believe it, Sacramento is in first place in the Pacific Division with nearly half of the 2022-23 season in the books.

Who saw that coming?

The Starters Get The Job Done

De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis did the heavy lifting on Tuesday, but the rest of the Kings starters carried their weight during the victory.

Harrison Barnes: 19 PTS | 7/13 FG | 8 REB | 2 STL

Keegan Murray: 16 PTS | 6/12 FG | 5 REB | 1 BLK

Kevin Huerter: 16 PTS | 6/12 FG | 4 REB | 1 AST

The Kings bench only contributed eight points during the win, so the fact that the starting five was able to make this much of an impact was invaluable to the final result.

Murray had some big plays in this game as the first-year forward had a big and-one lay-in with six minutes remaining that gave Sacramento the lead. Before Tuesday’s game, the 22-year-old was named Western Conference Rookie of the Month for his efforts in December.

The rookie celebrated the honor in style with a strong performance against the Jazz.

Three-Point Woes Don’t Cost The Kings

After shooting 37 percent from three-point range during the first half, Sacramento shot just two-of-13 (15 %) from beyond the arc during the second half. The Kings finished the night having shot 28 percent from deep, as they improved to 2-9 this season when shooting less than 32 percent from the three-point line.

Two-point field goals saved Sacramento in this one, as the Kings shot just under 60 percent from the field during the second half (11-of-12 at the rim).

KZ Gets The Chain

During the fourth quarter, KZ Okpala put on a defensive clinic while guarding Jordan Clarkson.

The defensive-minded wing finished the night with two steals and a team-best defensive rating of 90.0 during the second half.

Sacramento Kings Postgame Show

Check out our Sactown Sports Kings Recap Show on the Sactown Sports 1140 YouTube channel!

Sactown Sports Kings Recap Shows will be happening all season long, immediately following each Kings game!

Next Game

Sacramento will play the second game of a back-to-back on Wednesday night when they return home to Golden 1 Center for a matchup against the Atlanta Hawks.

Be sure to get all of your Kings vs. Hawks coverage on Sactown Sports 1140 starting at 5:30 pm PST on Game Night before action tips off at 7:00 pm PST from downtown Sacramento.

Upcoming Sacramento Kings Schedule

Wednesday, January 4th – Sacramento Kings vs. Atlanta Hawks – 7:00 PM PST

Saturday, January 7th – Sacramento Kings vs. Los Angeles Lakers – 7:00 PM PST

Monday, January 9th – Sacramento Kings vs. Orlando Magic – 7:00 PM PST

Wednesday, January 11th – Sacramento Kings vs. Houston Rockets – 7:00 PM PST

Friday, January 13th – Sacramento Kings vs. Houston Rockets – 7:00 PM PST

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