SACRAMENTO -- The NBA is the ultimate team game. Five players must work together on both ends of the court, or they end up in the loss column more often than not.
The Kings have come to understand how valuable chemistry can be during a compact 72-game season. When something goes sideways and the delicate balance that makes a team successful is off by just a smidge, the result is a string of bad losses that can snowball in a hurry.
After a tough stretch, the Kings looked like they were in for another long night just a minute into their matchup with the Indiana Pacers on Monday night. Coach Luke Walton called a timeout, allowed his team to adjust to the physicality of play, and then sent them back out to compete.
The result was a tremendous 127-122 victory over a very good Pacers squad. It was a team win for Sacramento that moved them back to within one game of .500. It was also a game that had multiple moments from the core players of the Kings' team.
“Wins like this don’t come from just one individual,” De’Aaron Fox said. “It comes from everybody doing what they need to do and acting as a team and I think tonight was a good win.”
Here is a look at five of the best moments from a much-needed Kings win.
The highlight reel
Fox had plenty of moments, both good and bad in this game. He beat the buzzer with a 3-ball to end the first half, which would have had Golden 1 Center rocking heading into halftime if fans were allowed in.
With the game on the line, Fox had one more opportunity to shine and he took full advantage. He also earned a spot on every highlight show Monday night with his slash to the hoop and hammer.
“That was an amazing play because of how quick he got past his man, and just like that, he was in the air,” Richaun Holmes said.
Fox finished the evening with 21 points, nine assists and five rebounds in 38 minutes. His hammer dunk was the bucket that gave the Kings separation late and helped them come away with the win.
Look what I found
Buddy Hield is off to a rough start on the season, but his ability to shoot the ball still has teams game-planning ways to stop him. For one of the few nights this season, he was on fire, but one play in particular stood out.
“Before that shot, he was already shooting the ball well today,” Fox said. “For us, it’s about getting him open, getting him clean looks. It’s a team thing. Just because he’s the one shooting, doesn’t mean that he’s the only one affecting his shot.”
Hield came into the night shooting just 33.8 percent from 3-point range through the first 10 games. Against the Pacers, he scored 18 points on 6-of-11 shooting from long range, including some big buckets in big moments.
Barnes goes off
Harrison Barnes is off to his best start in a Kings uniform and on multiple nights, he’s put this team on his back through tough stretches. He’s scoring, rebounding and even posting his best assist numbers as a pro. Coming into Monday night, the Kings’ season high for points in a season was just 24. Barnes smashed that number and did it in a variety of ways.
“He’s been in the league for a long time, he’s won a championship, he’s been in those big series and he’s someone we can definitely lean on,” Fox said.
Barnes finished with 30 points on 10-of-14 from the field to lead all scorers. He chipped in eight rebounds and two assists in the win.
Holmes is the heart and soul of this Kings team. After bouncing around the league, he’s seemed to have found a home in Sacramento. After missing Saturday’s game with ankle soreness, he was questionable against the Pacers and he not only played, but dominated in his 36 minutes action.
Holmes’ block at the 1:25 mark of the fourth quarter needed a coach’s review, but may have saved the game for Sacramento.
“He just makes plays, the shot block at the end, the free throws down the stretch, even the buzzer beater three,” Walton said. “I don’t think you’re going to count on that every night, but he makes winning plays for use, works extremely hard, never complains and is just willing to do all the dirty work that it takes to win in the NBA.”
Holmes finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds for his second double-double of the season. He also came away with a career-high six blocks and played most of the fourth quarter with five personal fouls.
Marvin Bagley appears to be riding an emotional roller coaster through the first 11 games. He’s had some highs, but the lows seem to be the ones that everyone remembers. He’s put up some solid scoring numbers and his rebounding has been very good, but on the defensive end, the third-year big has struggled.
While he’s a work in progress, he had a few huge moments, including this block against Domantas Sabonis in the third quarter.
“You don’t always look at numbers, he was a big part of us winning tonight,” Walton said of Bagley. “That’s what we keep preaching to him -- 'You’re going to have a long career with big numbers all over from just how easily scoring and rebounding come to him. But where we’re at, we need you to help us win.' And I thought he did that tonight.”
Bagley had a modest eight points and seven rebounds in 23 minutes, but there were moments where he made winning plays. He had two blocks, but also looked better on his rotations, more engaged on the defensive end and he even drew a charge.