Kings

De'Aaron Fox puts on show at MSG, leads Kings to blowout win vs. Knicks

De'Aaron Fox puts on show at MSG, leads Kings to blowout win vs. Knicks

Bright lights, big city.

De’Aaron Fox loves playing at Madison Square Garden and on Sunday afternoon he put on a show in the Kings’ 113-92 blowout win over the New York Knicks.

Not only did Fox drop a team-high 24 points and six assists, he might have gotten himself on every highlight reel across the country with two spectacular plays.

With 5:27 remaining in the fourth quarter, Fox helped stymie a run by the Knicks with an incredible block on Allonzo Trier at the rim.

“I just saw it and I just tried to make a play on the ball,” Fox told NBC Sports California's Grant Napear and Doug Christie following the game. “It’s a lot of momentum if they make that dunk, because they had just got a stop. You don’t want the momentum to shift that late in the game”

A little over two minutes later, Fox picked the pocket of rookie RJ Barrett and went the length of the court for an incredible windmill dunk to put the Kings back up by 19.

“I was thinking about doing a 360 at first,” Fox said. “I was thinking about what to do, but for me, the windmill is like the safe route.”

Fox missed a bigtime jam in the Kings’ win over the Utah Jazz on Friday and that may have been in the back of his mind as he leapt off the floor.

In his third NBA season, Fox is beginning to show signs that he is ready to take over the leadership of the Kings and certainly a starring role on the court.

“It’s really just dictating the pace of the game,” Fox said. “Obviously you want the ball to move, the ball to pop, but sometimes you’ve just got to slow it down. I’m learning to control the game both offensively and defensively. That’s something that all of the coaches are helping me do.”

At just 21-years-old, Fox continues to show that no stage is too big. Through seven games, he’s averaging 18.6 points and 6.3 assists per game for Sacramento.

Kings take trip to Folsom Prison, Luke Walton suits up for justice reform

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@sacramentokings

Kings take trip to Folsom Prison, Luke Walton suits up for justice reform

SACRAMENTO -- It wasn’t your typical Thursday evening. Instead of sitting at home and taking in a few extra minutes of NBA basketball, I dressed in a mandated all black outfit and headed to Folsom Prison to watch Sacramento Kings head coach Luke Walton play basketball with and against a group of incarcerated men.

The basketball was sloppy but entertaining. The emcee of the event wandered around the court making up nicknames for the players like “Skilz," “The ponytailed gangsta” and everyone’s personal favorite, “white shadow.”

There were no fights or risk of danger. A few hundred of the estimated 2,400 residents of the prison sat in the stands eating popcorn and cotton candy and cheering everything from dunks, to the tap dancers at halftime to Vivek Ranadivé, Vlade Divac, Marvin Bagley, Trevor Ariza and Nemanja Bjelica, who were in attendance. 

Before taking the court, players and management met with individuals in a closed-door session. Media members were not allowed in, but Bagley gave a glimpse into what the conversation was about.

“We had a round table discussion earlier before we got to the court, we were sitting in a circle and one of the things I was saying was that basketball isn’t going to be forever it’s something that I do right now, but I’m a person first, just like everybody here,” Bagley said. “To be able to share love, show love, no matter what you’re doing or what you did in the past, no matter what you’re in here for, everybody has an opportunity to move forward and love. I think if we all continue to love one another and have positivity in the world, we’ll get to a place where there’s not as much silly, craziness going on.”

The Kings’ 20-year-old power forward is just starting out on his NBA journey, which will include all kinds of opportunities to get involved and use his platform in unique ways. He was on the sidelines dancing and greeting players coming off the court. He even went over to the stands after the event and took pictures.

“I can’t even really put it into words, it’s something I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” Bagley said. “Coming in, I didn’t know what to expect. I’ve never been to a prison before. You always hear about it and see it movies, but to walk through and see what it’s like, it was definitely eye-opening and something I’ll remember.”


Photo via Sacramento Kings

Opened in 1880, Folsom is a level 2-3 prison. While there are lifers mixed amongst the population, many of the residents will someday find their way back into society, which was the focus of the event.

“Through art, storytelling, and values-based conversations focused on redemption, mercy, and the possibility of a second chance, the REPRESENT JUSTICE Campaign, in partnership with One Community, will aim to humanize incarcerated individuals in the media and public opinion,” the team’s official press release said.

The event was co-sponsored by the Kings, the Milwaukee Bucks and the REPRESENT JUSTICE campaign and it won’t be the last event like this that the Kings will be involved with.

“We're proud to be the first participant in the Play for Justice initiative, which is shining a bright light on the unique issues facing incarcerated people in communities around the country,” Ranadivé said in a prepared statement. “Sports franchises have a unique opportunity to bring about positive change, which is why in the past year, the Kings and the Bucks brought together leaders from across two cities to share best practices and find new solutions to social injustices. This collaboration with REPRESENT JUSTICE is another example of how we can use our platforms for good.”

[RELATED: Holmes comes up clutch on Kings' final possession]

According to the team’s press release, “The games are part of the Campaign’s efforts to engage audiences and spark collective action to demand a fair legal system, dignity for system-impacted communities, and an end to extreme sentencing.”

The game was played outdoors under a makeshift tent brought in by the Kings. Walton’s team came away with the victory, but he was too winded to speak to the media after the game. He had a few dunks, but he looked every bit the part of a 39-year-old who retired from the game six years ago.

Kings' Richaun Holmes continues to shine after crucial stop vs. Thunder

Kings' Richaun Holmes continues to shine after crucial stop vs. Thunder

NBA team used to try to post up 5-foot-9 Isaiah Thomas during his time with the Sacramento Kings. More often than not, they came up empty.

Thomas is stronger than he looks and a lot of guards aren’t comfortable playing in the post, regardless of who they are guarding.

Teams have tried to reverse this trend in the last few seasons in the league. Instead of isolating smaller players in the post, they instead try to drag bigs out to the perimeter and then take advantage of their often inferior lateral quickness.

That was the gameplan Wednesday night at Golden 1 Center. With 13.4 seconds on the clock, the Thunder made sure the ball was in Chris Paul’s hand and then worked to get the switch they were looking for.

OKC then spaced the floor, isolating Paul on center Richaun Holmes and having him go one-on-one with the 6-foot-10 big.

“You’ve just got to guard,” Holmes told NBC Sports California. “Chris Paul is a Hall of Famer, a very smart player and you’ve just got to make him as uncomfortable as possible.”

Paul started on the left elbow and crossed over Holmes while sliding to the right elbow. The 6-foot-1 guard tried to step back and fall away to create space, but Holmes stayed with him stride for stride.

“You don’t want to let your teammates down, so I was just trying to make him take as tough a shot as possible and that’s what I was able to do,” Holmes added.

Paul’s 15-foot jumper barely cleared the outstretched right arm of Holmes and hit the front rim. Harrison Barnes flew in for the rebound and the Kings came away with the 94-93 win.

It’s a lot of pressure to put on a center, but head coach Luke Walton has trust in Holmes. The crowd was on their feet begging for one more stop. While Paul is dancing around waiting for an opening, you can see the Kings locked up in man-to-man coverage, leaving Holmes alone on an island.

“I could feel the energy come up,” Holmes said of the crowd. “We were able to rally around that. It was a good feeling. It was a good feeling to come out there and even a better feeling to come away with the win.”

Trevor Ariza is in the post fighting with Steven Adams, Bogdan Bogdanovic is boxing out Danilo Gallinari and both Barnes and Cory Joseph stayed tight on their men on the perimeter.

“Yeah, he’s impressive,” Walton said of Holmes. “He’s been impressive all year. I look back at that first win we were able to get against Utah here and he switched out on [Donovan] Mitchell in that game and made a great defensive contest. He’s been one of the main points with our defense turning around where it has from the start of the season to now.”

Sacramento was atrocious on the defensive end during their 0-5 start to the season, but they’ve turned things around. The Kings currently allow the 13th-most points per game at 108.3 and they are 19th in defensive rating. There is plenty more room for improvement, but they are winning games with their defense for the first time in years.

The Kings now have won three in a row against quality opponents by a combined six points. All three games came down to the final seconds.

“It’s the NBA, we’re competing, they’re competing,” Holmes said. “The last few games we’ve been going down to the wire. That’s what you live for. You live for the opportunity to be out there on the floor and make the play. I enjoy every minute of it.”

[RELATED: Bagley's 'best basketball yet to come' after his Kings return]

The schedule gets lighter over the next few games, but the Kings are not in a position to let up. They’ve almost recovered completely from their abysmal start to the season and are starting to get healthy at the right time.

Getting Marvin Bagley back may change Holmes’ role slightly with the team, but he earns every minute with his play on both ends of the court. His defense against Paul was just a small sample of what the Kings have seen throughout the first quarter of the season from their starting center.