Kings

De'Aaron, Monk fuel Kings to defensive win over Timberwolves

Kings

When the fourth quarter rolls around, it is De'Aaron Fox's time.

This time around, though, he had help in the Kings' 118-111 overtime win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday at Target Center. 

Two days after Sacramento's defense frustratingly disappeared in its 117-110 loss to Minnesota, Fox, Malik Monk and the rest of the team hunkered down the side of the ball they have struggled mightily on: Defense.

"We knew it was going to come down to the end and it started on the defensive end and getting stops," Monk told Kyle Draper and Matt Barnes on "Kings Postgame Live." "So that's what we did."

After allowing the Timberwolves to shoot 52.5 percent from the field and 45.9 percent from 3-point land in Saturday's loss, the Kings held them to 46.7 percent and 30.8 percent, respectively, in the rematch. 

Monk, who had three steals during Monday's contest, including a clutch takeaway with 1:30 left in overtime, made it a point to focus on defense, especially since his offensive production has stagnated in January.

"Yeah, my shots haven't been falling the last couple weeks so I knew I was going to have to do something to else to stay on the court," Monk continued. "On the defensive end, that's what [Kings coach] Mike [Brown] loves, so I just brought a lot of energy and have my hands in the passing lanes and I was just able to get my hands on a couple steals."

 

Overall, the Kings as a whole nabbed 15 steals, a season-high.

"So, we just wanted to get into passing lanes, get the deflections," Fox told reporters postgame. "And it's not even necessarily trying to turn a team over -- it's really just trying to be disruptive."

Also, Monday's outing was a bounce-back game for Monk: He scored 19 points on 9-of-14 shooting, five assists, and two rebounds to go along with his aforementioned steals. 

For context, Monk had been averaging 9.2 points -- on 36.5 percent shooting from the field and 29.8 percent from 3-point land -- 3.8 assists and 3.2 rebounds in January (13 games). 

Kings rookie Keegan Murray, who had a solid game with 13 points and 13 rebounds, noted how important it was for Monk to get into a groove.

"He's always going to shoot the ball," Murray explained to reporters postgame. "He's extremely confident, always aggressive, he's kind of like our spark plug off the bench.

"Anytime he comes in the game, he's a spark and we needed that."

While Monk did all of his scoring in regulation, the fourth quarter and overtime, it was Fox's turn, as per usual. After scoring 21 points in the fourth quarter alone in the Kings' last meeting with the Timberwolves, the Kings' star guard had 12 points Monday night.

Despite being the engine that drives Sacramento offensively late in games, the 25-year-old made it a point to reiterate the Kings' renewed defensive focus, especially in overtime. 

"I think it's big, I think we're much better defensively," Fox added. "That's what you want to be able to do and ... to be able to go into overtime in someone else's building and gut out a win is definitely big for us."

Fox finished the game with 32 points, five rebounds, four assists, two steals, and one block in his 41 minutes of action. Kings forward Trey Lyles also had a big impact off the bench, scoring eight of his 11 points in overtime. 

In all, although Monk and Fox combined for 51 points, the former knows Monday's win was predicted on playing ugly basketball on defense. 

"It was all stops, it was all on the defensive end," Monk said. "Our offense is always going to be there, we always know that.

"... And that's what we're separated at."

RELATED: Kings' defense frustratingly absent in loss to T-Wolves

The Kings' gutsy overtime win against the Timberwolves showed what the coaching staff had been trying to preach all season: that games can be won on the defensive end. 

And if Foxcano get the same kind of support on both ends of the ball against the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday at AT&T Center, the Kings could be the team to watch out for after the All-Star Break