What we learned as Fox fights through injury in Kings’ OT win vs. Lakers

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What we learned as Fox fights through injury in Kings’ OT win vs. Lakers originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

SACRAMENTO – The Kings welcomed a SoCal rival to Golden 1 Center on Sunday as they looked to bounce back from Friday’s loss to the Golden State Warriors.

LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers took a trip about 350 miles north to the state’s capital to take on De’Aaron Fox and the Kings for 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 on Oct. 29, 2003, at Arco Arena in Sacramento. He returns to the 916 as the league’s leading scorer, a 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 action between these two teams just wasn’t enough.

Here are the takeaways from the Kings’ 132-127 overtime win.

A De’Aaron Fox takeover

De’Aaron Fox is as consistent as a player could be, but everyone knows his favorite quarter is the fourth and final one.

If the Kings are down and need a spark offensively, Fox is that guy. He earned the league’s first Clutch Player of the Year award for a reason. But on Sunday, he didn’t wait til the final 12 minutes of regulation to take over.

Fox had 10 points in the opening quarter and 11 in the second.

The 25-year-old briefly exited the game and went to the locker room in the fourth quarter after a hard fall had him down for about two minutes on the baseline. Less than five minutes later, the Golden 1 Center jumbotron showed Fox return from the table and walk over to the scorer’s table, to which the crowd erupted in loud cheers. And when Fox officially checked back into the game, Kings fans once again erupted and welcomed back 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 something about playing the Lakers, or maybe it’s just Fox being Fox.

A big, 6-foot-10 problem

From the get-go, the impact of Lakers star center Anthony Davis and all six feet and 10 inches of him was felt on both ends of the floor.

In the first three minutes of action on Sunday, Davis’ play-by-play stats looked like this: Block, rebound, steal, block, rebound, bucket.

That theme similarly carried over throughout the rest of the game.

While Sacramento found ways to work around Davis and his length on the offensive side of the floor, defensively, they struggled to contain the big man in the paint.

Davis had his way against the Kings’ defense, as not even 6-foot-11 Sabonis nor 7-foot JaVale McGee could stop him.

The eight-time NBA All-Star finished 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 struggles 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 assured they still had the utmost confidence in Huerter and knew he would turn it around.

Sunday was that day.

The Kings guard made more than one 3-pointer in a game for the first time this season in Sacramento’s win. He had two in regulation and one huge trey in overtime that ultimately helped secure the win.

With Fox nursing an injury, Malik Monk also came up huge late in the game. The Kings guard tallied 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 had 12 points on 33.3-percent shooting from the field and 42.8 percent from downtown, along with seven rebounds and four assists in 36 minutes.

And in the end, he got the “privilege” to light the beam for the first time of the season inside G1C.

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