What we learned as Fox battles injuries in the Kings’ OT win over the Lakers originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area
SACRAMENTO – The Kings welcomed a SoCal rival to the Golden 1 Center on Sunday as they tried to bounce back from Friday Lost to the Golden State Warriors.
LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers traveled about 350 miles north to the nation’s capital to face De’Aaron Fox and the Kings in the third game of the 2023-24 NBA season.
James made his NBA debut on this day 20 years ago when his Cleveland Cavaliers played the Kings at Arco Arena in Sacramento on October 29, 2003. He returns to the 916 as the league’s leading scorer, 19-time All-Star, four-time NBA champion and four-time NBA MVP.
And things got spooky on the Sunday before Halloween, as four quarters of play between these two teams just wasn’t enough.
Here are the takeaways from the Kings’ 132-127 overtime win.
A takeover from De’Aaron Fox
De’Aaron Fox is as consistent as a player can be, but everyone knows his favorite quarter is the fourth and final.
When the Kings are down and need a spark on offense, Fox is the man. He didn’t receive the league’s first Clutch Player of the Year award for nothing. But on Sunday, he didn’t wait until the final 12 minutes of regulation time to take over.
Fox had 10 points in the first quarter and 11 in the second.
The 25-year-old briefly left the game and went to the locker room in the fourth quarter after a hard fall left him on the baseline for about two minutes. Less than five minutes later, the Golden 1 Center Jumbotron showed Fox returning from the table and walking to the scorer’s table, causing the crowd to erupt in loud cheers. And when Fox officially returned to the game, Kings fans erupted again, greeting their favorite point guard with a loud ovation.
The All-NBA point guard finished the game with 37 points, four rebounds and eight assists in 34 minutes.
Last season against the Lakers, Fox averaged 29.3 points on 58 percent shooting, four rebounds and 8.3 assists in four games (three wins).
Maybe it’s because of playing against the Lakers, or maybe it’s just because Fox is Fox.
A big 6-foot-10 problem
From the start, the influence of Lakers star center Anthony Davis and his overall 6-foot-3 frame was felt on both ends of the court.
Through the first three minutes of play on Sunday, Davis’ play-by-play stats looked like this: block, rebound, steal, block, rebound, bucket.
This theme continued throughout the rest of the game.
While Sacramento found ways to get around Davis and his length on offense, they struggled defensively to contain the big man.
Davis tore through the Kings’ defense as not even the 6-foot-2 Sabonis or 7-foot JaVale McGee could stop him.
The eight-time NBA All-Star finished the game with 30 points, 16 rebounds, two assists, two steals and three blocks in 42 minutes.
The return of Headband Huerter
After the Kings fell to the Warriors on Friday, the focus was on Kevin Huerter.
Huerter’s playoff difficulties from last season carried over into this preseason and the first two regular season games of the new season.
Fox, Kings coach Mike Brown and the rest of the team said they still had the utmost confidence in Huerter and knew he could turn things around.
Sunday was that day.
The Kings guard made more than one three-pointer in a game for the first time this season in Sacramento’s win. He scored two goals in regulation time and a big three-pointer in overtime, which ultimately contributed to the win.
With Fox suffering an injury, Malik Monk also had a great performance towards the end of the game. The Kings guard scored 22 points, three rebounds and three assists on 7 of 17 shooting and 4 of 9 from 3-point range.
He entered the game averaging 3.5 points on 3 of 14 shooting (21.4 percent) from the field and 1 of 10 from 3-point range in two games. In Sunday’s win, he scored 12 points on 33.3 percent shooting from the field and 42.8 percent from downtown, as well as seven rebounds and four assists in 36 minutes.
And in the end he was given the “privilege” of lighting the beam for the first time of the season in the G1C.