Kings

De'Aaron Fox made all the right plays in Kings' first win of season

De'Aaron Fox made all the right plays in Kings' first win of season

SACRAMENTO -- Looking for the Kings first win of the season, De’Aaron Fox tried to single-handedly beat the Utah Jazz on Friday at Golden 1 Center. And then he tried a different approach.

With 58 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, Fox made a move to the hoop on Donovan Mitchell. Lurking behind the Jazz’s star guard was a 7-foot-2 shadow waiting to send Fox’s shot into the second row.

Fox accelerated, pulling Utah’s two best players into the center of the lane and then he calmly dropped the ball back to a wide open Dewayne Dedmon, who gave the Kings a three-point lead.

Dedmon came into the evening 2-of-11 from behind the arc. He had also missed his first five 3-point attempts on the night.

“It means a lot,” Dedmon told NBC Sports California following the Kings' 102-101 victory. “He had a hell of a game tonight, getting to the rim, finding the open man when your man was helping. He had a really good game tonight.”

Utah wasn’t done. Rudy Gobert hammered down an alley-oop from Mitchell to bring the Jazz within two with 43.2 seconds remaining. Fox missed a 10-foot jumper with 21.8 remaining, which opened the door for Mitchell to give the Jazz the lead back with 11.2 seconds remaining.

Needing a basket to retake the lead, Fox went into attack mode one more time. Although he had an opportunity to force a shot up near the rim against Mitchell and Gobert again, he fired a pass to an open Nemanja Bjelica in the corner.

The veteran forward, who had hit 3-of-5 from long range before that moment, caught rim, but the chaos of Fox’s drive put the Jazz’s defenders out of position. Harrison Barnes slid into the lane, grabbed the rebound and gave the Kings the one-point lead with just 2.9 seconds remaining.

It was a big development for Fox. In the span of a minute, twice he chose to be unselfish and make the right play.

“I trust those guys,” Fox told NBC Sports California following then game. “I feel like even though I was the one commanding the offense, I still have a duty to make the right play basically. Getting in the lane isn’t always for me. So I try to find the open guy and DD hit a big shot and Belly was open. I feel like that’s the right play.”

These are the moments the Kings need if they are going to climb out of the hole that was created by five straight losses to start the season.

These are also the types of moments that Fox needs if he is going to take that magical next step into stardom.

“Whether he's turning the ball over, missing shots, making plays - that's what we want to see,” coach Luke Walton said. “That's what I was really pushing for in those final couple of minutes was - let’s give him space, let’s let him create for himself or others and continue to grow him as a closer.”

Fox finished the evening with a team-high 25 points on 8-of-17 shooting from the field and 9-for-12 from the free throw line. He added four assists, five rebounds and a steal in 37 minutes of play.

“Mentality wise, I thought from the jump ball tonight, he was in that attack mode that we’re looking for,” Walton added.

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More importantly than any of the numbers, Fox helped his team earn a much needed first victory of the season after a disastrous start.

The Kings take their show on the road beginning Sunday in New York City. They’ll face the Knicks, Raptors and Hawks over the next week, before returning home to Golden 1 Center to face the Portland Trail Blazers on Nov. 12.

Kings' Harry Giles earns first double-double in road win vs. Clippers

Kings' Harry Giles earns first double-double in road win vs. Clippers

LOS ANGELES -- Don’t look now, but the Kings are on a roll.

With a 112-103 victory over the Clippers on Saturday, Sacramento now has won two in a row and eight of its last 12 games. There are plenty of reasons for the push, but flying under the radar is the improvement of second-year big man Harry Giles.

“There’s a lot of growth happening,” Kings coach Luke Walton told NBC Sports California after the win. “One, I think his conditioning and his body looks, and I’m assuming, feels pretty good right now.”

Giles went toe-to-toe with a huge Clippers frontline and managed to post his first career double-double. He finished the game with 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting and chipped in 12 rebounds, which matched his career high.

“It feels good, man,” Giles said. “I feel like I already had one, I should have had one. I’m glad I can finally put one in the books.”

On Jan. 30, Giles struggled to stay on the floor against the Clippers, picking up two quick fouls against Montrezl Harrell and then sitting for all but three minutes of the game while the Kings’ 3-point shooters rained down on Los Angeles.

“You have to give him a lot of credit for continuing to improve and do what we as a staff are asking him to do,” Walton added.

With very little support behind him because of njury, Giles came into Saturday’s game knowing that he had to stay on the floor. The only hope of doing that was to play defense without fouling.

[RELATED: Marvin Bagley visits foot specialist, out at least three more weeks]

“With time and reps, I’m just going to get better,” Giles said. “The fouls -- it varies. It’s tough. It depends on how you play and how the refs let you play. I’m going to keep getting better at that and just keep playing hard.”

In a career-high 32 minutes of action, Giles picked up just three fouls. He set good screens, moved his feet on defense and limited his mistakes overall. More importantly, he played valuable fourth-quarter minutes in a huge team victory.

Richaun Holmes and Marvin Bagley continue to miss time because of injury, and the Kings are extremely thin upfront. Giles has started six of the last eight games, and he’s starting to build momentum.

“I’m just trying to build on the opportunity and keep winning,” Giles said.

With just over a minute left and the game still undecided, Giles got an opportunity to shine off the lob.

[RELATED: Jabari Parker ready for Kings debut, Alex Len getting closer]

The Kings decided not to pick up Giles’ fourth-year option back in October, but they’ve kept the door open for a possible return for the 21-year-old big next season. He has another 26 games to show what he can do, and he’s auditioning for all 30 teams at this point.

Giles wasn’t the only center to play minutes for the Kings. 7-footer Alex Len made his Sacramento debut and played very well for a player who has missed 11 straight games with a hip pointer.

“I wasn’t planning on playing him that much, I wanted to just get him out there a little bit,” Walton said. “I was going to come in with Jabari [Parker], but he looked good. He was moving well. He was clogging up the paint. He was putting out fires for us. So I pushed it a little more than I wanted to with his minutes, but he said he felt good, and it was nice to have a real big 7-foot body out there to help control the paint.”

Len, who came over from the Atlanta Hawks at the NBA trade deadline, finished with three points and eight rebounds in 16 minutes of play. He was active and made a nice impact on the game in his limited time on the court.

Kings takeaways: What we learned in 112-103 upset win over Clippers

Kings takeaways: What we learned in 112-103 upset win over Clippers

BOX SCORE 

LOS ANGELES -- After leading the Los Angeles Clippers for most of the game, the Kings took a right hook to the chin in the fourth quarter Saturday afternoon at Staples Center. 

The Kings looked stunned, but they didn’t fall. 

The Clippers' trio of Kawhi Leonard, Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell put on a show, but in another shocker in LA, the Kings took down the 37-19 Clippers by a final of 112-103.

Here are three takeaways as the Kings picked up their second win over the Clippers at Staples Center this season, and improved to 23-33 on the season.

More Baze

Kent Bazemore has gone from a pleasant surprise to something more for the Kings. The veteran forward is active defensively, and much better than expected as an offensive weapon.

After posting 15 points, followed by 18 in the team’s previous two games, Bazemore came out aggressive again on Saturday. He scored 15 points on 4-of-6 shooting in the first half and continued to put pressure after the intermission. 

The 30-year-old wing is the shot in the arm the Kings needed. He finished the game with 23 points, six rebounds and four steals in 29 minutes. 

Bazemore is an unrestricted free agent after the season, and quickly is turning into a priority for the Kings. 

Backcourt

De’Aaron Fox and Bogdan Bogdanovic came to play. 

Fox struggled with his shot coming out of the gate, but he was aggressive attacking the rim and eventually found a rhythm. He finished with 20 points, eight assists and a steal.

Like Fox, Bogdanovic got off to a slow start, but he hit the Clippers hard in the third quarter to finish with 20 points on 4-of-10 from distance. 

Sacramento’s backcourt outscored the Clippers 40-12.

Another game, another new face

Jabari Parker wasn’t the only player the Kings picked up from the Atlanta Hawks in the Dewayne Dedmon trade. 7-footer Alex Len made his Kings debut against the Clippers and instantly made an impact.

The No. 5 overall pick from the 2013 NBA Draft has struggled to find his place in the league, but against LA, he was active on both ends of the floor and battled star sixth man, Montrezl Harrell.

[RELATED: Bagley sees foot specialist, out at least three more weeks]

Len finished with three points on 1-for-3 shooting, but he grabbed eight rebounds in 16 minutes.

With Richaun Holmes out of action, the Kings need minutes from Len. He earned a longer look next time out, but he’ll have to compete for time with Harry Giles, who finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds for his first career double-double.