Huerter’s late heroics lift Kings to epic 126-125 win over Jazz

Dec 30, 2022, 10:33 PM

| Updated: 10:34 pm
SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 30: Kevin Huerter #9 of the Sacramento Kings celebrates a three-p...

(Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

(Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

The Sacramento Kings are ringing in the new year with the lighting of the beam.

For the second-straight game, the Kings had to lock in on the defensive end and pick up a stop to secure a win, and Friday night’s 126-125 victory over the Utah Jazz came down to one final stop with 4.2 seconds remaining.

Sacramento got the stop, another sold-out Golden 1 Center crowd chanted for the beam, and the ‘Cardiac Kings’ pulled out another nail-biter as they improved to 19-15 on the season.

With the win, the Kings have jumped into the fifth spot in the Western Conference standings as they will head into 2023 riding high off two thrilling wins and a 3-3 homestand.

Game Story

Domantas Sabonis quickly proved that his fractured right thumb isn’t holding him back from going full-tilt, as the center posted 13 points, seven rebounds, and five assists during the first half to help pace the Kings to a 60-57 advantage at the break.

Kevin Huerter had the permanent green light early as ‘Red Velvet’ racked up 12 points over 14 first-half minutes.

Although Sacramento shot 52 percent from the field and led by as many as nine points during the first half, they struggled to create separation against a Jazz team that ranks among the NBA’s top five teams in points per game (116.9). If the Kings wanted to end 2022 with a win, they would need to slow down Utah’s offense–especially in the paint.

The third quarter was more of the same for the Kings, as a 10-point lead was reduced to just four points entering the final period. The Jazz immediately answered each Sacramento run, with Lauri Markkanen’s 25 points through three quarters acting as the driving force behind each stretch.

Utah took their first lead of the night early in the fourth thanks to a 10-0 run, which started a back-and-forth scoring affair between the two Western Conference opponents.

It seemed as if neither team missed a field goal for a large stretch of play before the Kings used a 12-0 run to take a 119-111 lead with three minutes remaining thanks to another solid fourth-quarter effort from De’Aaron Fox, who delivered one of the dunks of the year in the process:

Just when it seemed that Sacramento was putting the finishing touches on the win, Utah silenced an energized crowd by going on a stunning 13-2 run that gave themselves a 124-121 lead with less than 40 seconds on the clock.

After a quick bucket from Fox, the Kings were forced to send Mike Conley to the line, but the veteran guard could only convert one free throw to leave the door open for Sacramento.

What happened next can only be described in one word: Chaos.

On their next possession, the Fox missed a floater before regaining the offensive rebound. The guard took another float attempt that rimmed out, but Harrison Barnes came up with another offensive board. Barnes swung a pass out to Keegan Murray on the perimeter, who then made the smart pass across the top of the three-point arc to an open Kevin Huerter.

Huerter had been on a heater all night long before missing a much-needed triple with just over a minute remaining and had his chance at redemption. ‘Red Velvet’ let it fly, and the three-point attempt dropped through to give Sacramento a 126-125 lead as 17,946 fans in attendance nearly blew the roof off.

Nine seconds and two defensive stops later, the beam was lit as Kings fans enjoyed another home win that came down to the game’s final plays.

Golden 1 Center has turned into a home-court advantage this season, which wasn’t the case last season. The wild atmosphere has been noteworthy as sold-out crowds have energized this team to win consecutive games.

“The fans here in Sacramento are unbelievable. You can mistake some of these regular-season games for playoff games,” Kings head coach Mike Brown said postgame of the atmosphere at Golden 1 Center. “Just to feel the energy is something special. It’s gotten us over the hump numerous times. The fans here are special.”

Brown is right–Sacramento fans are a special type of sports fan, and they have been front-and-center during this six-game home stand.


One-handed Domantas Sabonis continues to dominate

Even with one healthy hand, Domantas Sabonis continues to pick apart opposing defenses.

Sabonis posted his league-leading 25th double-double of the season and his 12th-straight overall as he scored 28 points, grabbed 11 rebounds, and handed out eight assists over 37 minutes.

The big man went a perfect 12-of-12 from the field and made both of his three-point attempts, becoming the first Kings player in franchise history to make 12+ field goals without missing and pull down 10+ rebounds in a single game–all with a broken thumb.

“The guy has a broken thumb and didn’t miss a shot. He’s playing All-NBA basketball,” Huerter said of Sabonis’ incredible night. “You come to expect it, almost. It’s just another game for him.”

Kevin Huerter’s career-night

Speaking of Kevin Huerter–Red Velvet was feeling it on Friday night.

The 24-year-old scored a career-high 30 points on 12-of-18 shooting from the field and six-of-10 from three-point land over 30 minutes of action. Sacramento needed a third member of the offense to step up help push this team towards a win, and Huerter turned in the best night of his NBA career.

Huerter, who spent the past four seasons with the Atlanta Hawks, said postgame that a running joke with his old team was that he “was allergic to scoring 30 points” after having multiple games with 27, 28, and 29 points.

Thanks to a clutch, game-sealing triple late in this game, Huerter finally got his 30-piece.

Mr. Fourth Quarter does it again

When the Kings need scoring in the fourth quarter, De’Aaron Fox seemingly answers the call every night.

Fox scored 10+ points in the fourth quarter for the fourth-straight game as the guard poured in 11 of his 24 points during the final quarter, including a massive dunk that will play on highlight reels for years to come.

“I feel like he’s been doing that all year,” Sabonis said of Fox’s knack to come through in the fourth quarter. “That’s what he does. He’s been clutch for us all year. He can get any shot that he wants, and he’s been making the right read every time.”

The Kentucky product finished the night with 10 assists to secure his sixth double-double of the season, topping his five double-doubles from last season through just 31 games in 2022-23.

Fox has been getting it done both at the rim and from the mid-range, an area of the floor that he has seemed almost automatic from this season.


  • Head coach Mike Brown exited the NBA’s Health & Safety protocols after missing Tuesday and Wednesday’s games against Denver.
  • Sacramento snapped an eight-game losing streak to Utah that dated back to January 18, 2020.

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

Happy 2023! 🎉

Sacramento will have a tough test to begin the new year as they will face Ja Morant and the Memphis Grizzlies at the FedEx Forum on Sunday afternoon.

The Kings and Grizzlies have split two games this season, with De’Aaron Fox’s 32-point effort leading Sacramento to a 113-109 win in Memphis during the most recent meeting on November 22nd.

Be sure to get all of your Kings vs. Grizzlies coverage on Sactown Sports 1140 starting at 3:30 pm PST on Game Night before action tips off at 5:00 pm PST from Memphis, Tennessee.

Upcoming Sacramento Kings Schedule

2023| Happy New Year! | 2023

Sunday, January 1st – Sacramento Kings @ Memphis Grizzlies – 5:00 PM PST

Tuesday, January 3rd – Sacramento Kings @ Utah Jazz – 6:00 PM PST

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


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