Kings

For Kings' De'Aaron Fox, NBA All-Star break was just what doctor ordered

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AP

For Kings' De'Aaron Fox, NBA All-Star break was just what doctor ordered

SACRAMENTO -- The NBA All-Star break is the last major milestone in the regular season before the mad dash to the finish line. It’s also a time for both mental and physical recovery, which was much needed for the Kings.

Buddy Hield went to Chicago to win the NBA's 3-point title. Cory Joseph made a visit to Maui and coach Luke Walton spent the weekend in Cabo with his wife. De’Aaron Fox took some time to heal up.

Coming off the best month of his career in January, Fox limped into the break. Following the team’s getaway game in Dallas, he was seen icing his left ankle that he injured early in the season. The issue caught the eye of at least one national writer.

According to ESPN’s Marc Spears: “Keep an eye on point guard De'Aaron Fox, who is still trying to recover from an early season ankle injury. The All-Star break came at a much-needed time for Fox. The third-year point guard is having issues with tightness in his ankle when he sits for long stretches during games, a source told ESPN.”

A league source confirmed to NBC Sports California that Fox’s ankle is nothing more than “normal grind of a long season.” The week away was just what the doctor ordered.

Fox originally injured his left ankle during practice on Nov. 11. He missed 17 games with a Grade 3 sprain, but came back much faster than originally predicted.

Following practice on Wednesday, Walton said he noticed that the time off might have done Fox some good.

“He looked really good yesterday and today, looks like he’s moving better,” Walton said. “He has some of that bounce back. The break, I think was great for everyone, including De’Aaron.”

[RELATED: Parker expects to make Kings debut against Grizzlies]

Fox is having another breakout season for the Kings. He went into the break averaging a career-best 19.7 points to go with seven assists and 4.2 rebounds in 31.5 minutes per game.

If the Kings have any chance of making a late run, they need their starting point guard healthy and ready to play a major role.

Five things to watch from Kings’ emotional comeback over Timberwolves

Five things to watch from Kings’ emotional comeback over Timberwolves

Programming note: Watch the re-air of the Kings’ victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves from Jan. 27, 2020 this afternoon at 3 p.m. on NBC Sports California.

To pass the time while the NBA figures out it’s next moves, NBC Sports California is bringing fans some of the best games from the last few seasons.

In our ninth installment, we go back to earlier this season when the Kings fell behind huge and pulled off an improbable comeback on the road against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

This was an emotional night for both teams. NBA legend Kobe Bryant had passed away the day before. The Timberwolves opened the game with an eight-second violation and the Kings gave it back on a 24-second shot clock violation to pay tribute to Bryant.

While we know the final outcome, sometimes the details are forgotten. Here are five things to watch from the Kings’ 133-127 overtime win over the Timberwolves at the Target Center.

The Decision

99 times out of 100, an NBA head coach pulls his starters when they are down 22 points with six minutes remaining in the fourth. That is not what coach Luke Walton did.

Showing some faith in his team, Walton left his starters in the game and they responded with a 33-11 run over the final 5:42 of the fourth to force overtime.

With momentum on their side, the Kings put the T-Wolves away in the extra five minutes to come away with one of the most stunning recoveries in team history. Sometimes you just have to play out the entire 48 minutes and show respect to the basketball gods.

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Buddy goes big

Buddy Hield can fill it up, but against the T-Wolves, he was on a different level.

In 38 minutes off the bench, Hield posted a career-high 42 points on 14-of-24 from the field and 9-for-14 from behind the arc.

With the Kings trailing big in the fourth, it was Hield who caught fire, scoring 20 points on a perfect 6-of-6 shooting from the field in the final 10:30 of the game.

With his teammates feeding him the ball at every opportunity, Buddy Buckets put on a show. A lifelong fan of Bryant, Hield had a little extra motivation in this game as well.


Fox misses ... and then doesn’t

It looked like the game was over in the third quarter and the Kings were barely breathing late in the fourth. The team got hot, played defense and had a little luck on their side to help claw back into the game, but they still needed a special play to get over the hump.

With three seconds remaining on the clock, De’Aaron Fox was fouled and sent to the line with his team trailing by three points. The Kings’ starting point guard nailed the first free throw and before the Timberwolves knew what hit them, he threw the ball off the front of the rim, caught it on the way up and scored a layup to tie the game.

Fox finished the game with 22 points, eight assists and seven rebounds. He closed out the game with six points in the overtime session to give the Kings the shocking comeback win.

Revenge game

Nemanja Bjelica spent his first three seasons in the NBA playing in Minnesota. He had all but given up on the league after that experience before the Kings talked him into signing a three-year deal.

In the overtime victory, the Kings power forward did a lot of everything. Bjelica knocked down 4-of-6 from long range on his way to 20 points. He added eight assists, nine rebounds, three blocks and two steals in 41 minutes of inspired basketball.

When Bjelica is on, the Kings are a different team.

[RELATED: Former Kings arena turned into coronavirus surge hospital]

Laws of averages

The Timberwolves aren't a great 3-point shooting team, but they were on in this game. The 'Wolves shot an incredible 23-of-46 from 3-point range and that almost carried them to victory.

Andrew Wiggins knocked down seven triples and Robert Covington added six of his own.

Unfortunately for the T-Wolves, they went cold when it mattered, hitting just 2-of-6 from behind the arc in the fourth quarter and 1-of-7 during the overtime session. As quickly as they shot themselves out to a huge lead, the Timberwolves shot themselves right out of the game.

Kevin Durant, Harrison Barnes lose early in NBA 2K Players Tournament

Kevin Durant, Harrison Barnes lose early in NBA 2K Players Tournament

Kevin Durant and Harrison Barnes are skilled on the court, but they need some work with the sticks.

Both NBA stars were knocked out in the first round of the NBA 2K Players Tournament on Friday.

Durant, the No. 1 overall seed in the 16-player tournament, was knocked out by Miami Heat high-riser Derrick Jones Jr. in the first matchup of the night.

Playing as the Los Angeles Clippers, Durant lost 78-62 to Jones, who was controlling the Milwaukee Bucks.

Durant did have a couple of noteworthy moments, though.

As for Barnes, he served as the No. 15 seed and took on No. 2 seed Trae Young. This matchup was never really close.

Barnes played as the defending NBA champion Toronto Raptors, while Young controlled the Bucks.

The Hawks star went on to win 101-59. After falling behind 10-0 early, Barnes cut the deficit to 13-11. But Young went on a 12-0 run, turning the game into a blowout.

During the game, both players were connected via headsets and exchanged banter while also asking each other questions.

While Young left Atlanta and went to his hometown of Norman, Okla., Barnes revealed that he decided to remain in Sacramento during the global coronavirus pandemic.

"I'm optimistic, man, that we're going to get in a few more games, so I'm staying close," Barnes said.

Young is close friends with Kings point guard De'Aaron Fox, and he asked Barnes what it's like playing with the former No. 5 overall pick.

"He's the best. Great dude, great point guard," Barnes said. "Unfortunately he got hurt early on, so it put us in a tough situation. If he had been healthy all year, I think we would have had a better year than we had."

[RELATED: Former Kings arena converted to hospital]

With the NBA on hiatus due to the pandemic, Durant and Barnes will have plenty of time at home to work on their 2K skills.