SACRAMENTO -- Break up the Kings. For the second straight game, Sacramento shook off an early deficit, battled through foul trouble and beat a veteran team in the fourth quarter.
The Kings rode the hot shooting of Nemanja Bjelica and a gritty performance by point guard De’Aaron Fox to pick up a 116-112 win over the Washington Wizards. It was their second straight victory, and they now sit at 3-3 on the season.
Here are five notes from Sacramento’s win.
Bjelica is more than just a shooter
He’s also a really good shooter. The 6-foot-10 forward went off against Washington, hitting 6-of-10 from long range on his way to 24 points. He also grabbed 12 rebounds for his second straight double-double, adding three assists, a steal and a block.
Like Bogdan Bogdanovic, Bjelica is a high-basketball IQ player who looks to make his teammates better. He’s made a huge impact early in his first season with the Kings.
Can’t catch Fox ...
... Unless you have a whistle. Fox is the leader of this young upstart Kings team, but he was almost taken out of the game completely by the officiating crew. He fought through the adversity, in the form of four early fouls, to come away with 18 points and nine assists in 30 minutes.
The 20-year-old point guard went toe-to-toe against five-time All-Star, John Wall. More importantly, he led his team to another win, and back to .500.
Buddy the point guard?
With Fox in foul trouble, Kings coach Dave Joerger turned to Buddy Hield to man the point guard spot for stretches. He battled Wall and even came away with a huge block late in the game.
In a close ball game, he posted 22 points on 8-of-17 shooting and added five rebounds in the win. This was Hield’s second straight game scoring over 20. Hield’s strong start to the season has been overshadowed by big numbers from Fox and big man Willie Cauley-Stein.
Willie Cauley-Stein is on a mission. The Kings center battled some of the best bigs in the NBA through the first five games. With Ian Mahinmi guarding him Friday evening, he went to work. The 7-footer scored 17 points, grabbed 11 rebounds, handed out seven assists and picked up a pair of steals.
Marvin Bagley took a shot to the head in the third quarter from Kelly Oubre, but that didn’t slow him down. He’s struggled lately with turnovers, giving it away five times against the Wizards and 14 times over his last four games.
The 20-year-old managed to overcome the issues to finish with 11 points and eight rebounds in 23 minutes. It’s all a learning process for the rookie big man.