Fox, Monk lead late charge as Kings pull out 130-128 thriller in Houston

Feb 8, 2023, 9:03 PM

HOUSTON, TEXAS - FEBRUARY 08: Malik Monk #0 of the Sacramento Kings drives ahead of Jae'Sean Tate #...

(Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

(Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

As soon as Jalen Green gave the Houston Rockets a 128-123 lead over the Sacramento Kings with less than a minute to go, it seemed like a seven-game road trip would come to a disappointing end on Wednesday night.

If you have watched any close Kings games this year, you’re probably familiar with the Two-Minute Report, and fans watching Sacramento’s game against the Rockets were undoubtedly preparing themselves for another look at the report after several questionable calls took place down the closing stretch of the game.

Trailing by five with less than one minute to go against the NBA’s worst team, Sacramento appeared to be on the verge of defeat before the storm clouds opened up and the basketball gods intervened.

Malik Monk secured a huge steal to give the Kings the ball with 1.1 seconds remaining, and De’Aaron Fox drew a foul while taking a game-winning three-point attempt at the buzzer as Sacramento snuck out of Toyota Center with a thrilling 130-128 win–a victory that you truly had to see to believe.

If it seems like the Kings have gotten the short end of the stick all season long when it comes to late-game officiating, it’s because they have.

According to Yahoo! Sports’ Ben Rohrbach, Sacramento has the worst luck regarding incorrect calls and miscues during close finishes this season. Wednesday night’s game was another opportunity for the Kings to get some whistles in their favor, and did they ever against the Rockets.

While officials appeared to miss contact on Domantas Sabonis and Keegan Murray’s back-to-back go-ahead attempts with less than 10 seconds to go AND an out-of-bounds call that was ruled off of Fox when it last touched Rockets guard Eric Gordon, Sacramento finally got the last-second call that they have been looking for all season.

Following the out-of-bounds call that went Houston’s way, the Rockets inbounded the basketball with 2.1 seconds remaining. Since the Kings had a foul to give, Sacramento would have to foul twice in order to send Houston to the foul line. Monk fouled immediately on the first inbound, leaving just 1.7 seconds on the clock.

On the second inbound, Monk stepped in front of Alperen Şengün’s inbound pass to KJ Martin Jr. and came up with the steal as Kings head coach Mike Brown quickly called timeout.

Somehow, someway, Sacramento would get a chance at winning the game with 1.2 seconds on the clock.

You can probably think of a few games this season where the Kings have gotten hosed on the last play of regulation.

Tyler Herro’s travel during a loss to Miami. Klay Thompson getting a piece of Kevin Huerter’s game-winning three-point attempt at Chase Center. Fox getting called for a bump foul on Los Angeles Lakers guard Dennis Schroder’s drive to the basket.

Fox received the inbound pass with 1.2 seconds on the clock and let a game-winning three-point attempt fly. Upon the release, Fox went to the ground as it appeared Rockets guard Eric Gordon got a piece of the Kings guard on his way down.

While the contact wasn’t blatantly obvious, Houston was without a challenge and had no choice but to stand by and watch as Fox drilled all three free throws to give Sacramento a win that didn’t seem possible just minutes earlier.

“It should have been our ball,” Fox said postgame of how the final seconds unfolded, starting with the incorrect out-of-bounds call that went the Rockets’ way. “We’ll see it tomorrow. [The officials] will replay it, and we’ll see whose ball it was supposed to be.”

Brown echoed a similar sentiment on the out-of-bounds play, but the seasoned head coach applauded his team for overcoming the call and baring down to pull out the win.

“I thought it was our ball,” Brown said of the out-of-bounds play that went Houston’s way. “We saw it, we knew it was our ball, but in that situation, there is nothing you can do about it. Our guys responded.”

The fact that Sacramento struggled to pull out a win against the NBA’s worst team is one thing, and allowing birthday boy Jalen Green to flirt with a career-high (41 points) is another thing, but the Kings were able to win ugly–and that’s precisely what playoff teams have to do to maintain pace in the standings.

Mr. Fourth Quarter came up clutch for Sacramento once again, as Fox scored 13 of his 31 points during the fourth quarter. The 25-year-old finished the night with his ninth double-double of the season, handing out 11 assists, grabbing five boards, and swiping two steals during the win.

Fox is thought to be on the short-list of candidates that will be replacing injured All-Stars Steph Curry and Zion Williamson, and the speedy guard added to his case by willing the Kings to another win on Wednesday night.

With Sabonis battling foul trouble for most of the second half, Monk stepped up and contributed on the offensive end as the Kentucky product finished the road trip strong with 17 points over 29 minutes of action.

Monk scored 12+ points in all seven games on the trip, and while his offense has come back to life following a recent slump, the guard’s late steal put Sacramento in a position to win the game. Because of his massive late swipe, Monk was awarded the Defensive Player of the Game chain for the second time over the past week.

The college backcourt duo of Fox and Monk came up huge down the stretch, and the Kings were able to get on the plane home having posted a 4-3 record during the seven-game trip. With the win, Sacramento (31-23) exceeded last season’s win total (30) and topped last year’s road win total (14) with plenty of season to go.

As crazy as it sounds, the Kings own the best road record in the Western Conference (15-12) as they bolstered their spot in the standings with a gritty win–one that got some long-awaited support from the sound of a whistle.

Murray Sets Kings Rookie Record

Keegan Murray stands alone.

Murray drilled two triples during Monday’s win as the rookie broke Bogdan Bogdanovic’s (129) rookie three-point record by hitting his 129th and 130th long-balls of the season. Over 32 minutes of action, Murray finished the night with 10 points, six rebounds, and two steals.

The fourth-overall pick from last summer’s draft is currently on pace to break Donovan Mitchell’s NBA rookie record for most triples made in a season (187).

The Deadline Is Here

We could see a different looking Kings team come Friday night.

Thursday’s noon PST trade deadline is just hours away, meaning several NBA teams will scramble to finalize their rosters for the postseason push.

Sacramento has already completed one trade, as the Kings brought forward Kessler Edwards over from the Brooklyn Nets–along with $2.6 million in cash–in return for the draft rights to David Michineau.

Does Monte McNair have some moves up his sleeves? Sacramento could use some defensive impact, rebounding, and a playmaker that can come off the bench, but we’ll see how the cards fall on Thursday morning.

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

Home sweet home.

After two weeks on the road, Sacramento will finally return to Golden 1 Center for a back-to-back set of games against Kyrie Irving and the new-look Dallas Mavericks.

Be sure to get all of your Kings vs. Mavericks 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

Thursday, February 9th – NBA Trade Deadline – 12:00 PM PST

Friday, February 10th – Sacramento Kings vs. Dallas Mavericks – 7:00 PM PST

Saturday, February 11th – Sacramento Kings vs. Dallas Mavericks – 7:00 PM PST

Tuesday, February 14th – Sacramento Kings @ Phoenix Suns – 6:00 PM PST

Friday, February 17th — Sunday, February 19th — NBA All-Star Weekend in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Thursday, February 23rd – Sacramento Kings @ Portland Trail Blazers – 7:00 PM PST


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Fox, Monk lead late charge as Kings pull out 130-128 thriller in Houston