SAN FRANCISCO -- No team needed the All-Star break more than Kings point guard De’Aaron Fox. An early-season ankle injury was getting heavy. Bumps and bruises were adding up and the time away was an opportunity to both heal up and mentally reset.
That worked for all of one game.
Fox woke up on Friday morning with a sore left shoulder. He’s had it taped up the last two games, but he’s playing through the issue.
In the team’s 112-94 win over the Warriors on Tuesday, Fox disappeared to the locker room due to tightness in his right groin. He returned to the game and looked no worse for wear.
🦊 got bounce pic.twitter.com/rT1YnZ0QI8— Kings on NBCS (@NBCSKings) February 26, 2020
Fox is fighting through the pain because his team needs him on the court if they have any hope of continuing what has become a hot streak.
“It’s motivating,” veteran wing Kent Bazemore said of Fox playing through pain. “You can see him wincing out there, but he’s pushing through. It means a lot that he’s bought in. We have his back and he is still demanding a lot of attention, dominating the game.”
Against the Warriors, Fox stuffed the stat sheet, finishing with 21 points, five assists, two rebounds, a steal and a block in 32 minutes of play. He shot just 4-of-9 from the free-throw stripe, but that has nothing to do with the nagging issues he’s currently struggling with.
“I don’t know,” Fox said when asked about shooting freebies. “I think we just gotta get there and get better. I don’t really know what else to say about it.”
Is there concern that the injuries will take Fox off the court or decrease his effectiveness? Absolutely, but in the NBA, injuries always are part of the game.
“They tell me he’s good to go, I asked him at halftime and he said, ‘play me’,” Luke Walton said. “Between our medical staff and talking to him, I feel confident. He came out and made some big-time in that second half and seemed to be alright.”
The team will be cautious with the 22-year-old budding star, but they also are going to forge ahead.
“We’ll go about it smartly and we’ll give him off days where he needs it and rehab and treatment and all that,” Walton added.
Fox is averaging 19.9 points and 6.9 assists for the Kings this season. He’s taking another leap forward in his production and growth, but Sacramento needs him at full strength if they are going to continue to stay in the hunt for the postseason.