If you thought the Sacramento Kings had thrown in the towel and were going to sleepwalk through the final 17 games of the season, you were wrong.
In a spirited battle from start to finish, the Kings went toe-to-toe with the Phoenix Suns on Thursday night. While they didn’t get the win, they showed the heart and determination that’s been missing over the last two weeks, before falling by a final tally of 122-114.
Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton starred for a Suns team that has stunned the NBA with their strong play this season. Chris Paul added a double-double to help Phoenix improve to 40-15 on the season.
Here are three takeaways as the Kings dropped their ninth straight to fall to 22-34 on the season.
Set em’ up
De’Aaron Fox has scored in bunches over the last few months, pushing his season average over 25 points per game. Against the Suns, he made sure to get everyone involved before putting up another big number.
Fox managed to score 27 points and dish out eight assists. He even showed off his speed on more than one occasion.
The only stat that matters right now for Fox and the Kings is the win/loss column. This was a gutsy performance for a team that is struggling, but it wasn’t enough.
The Kings’ bench has been all over the board this season, but against the Suns, they came to play.
With Tyrese Haliburton picking up three fouls early, Wright got a longer leash against the high-powered Suns backcourt. He responded with 12 of his 16 points in the first half.
Haliburton shook off the foul trouble and came up big in the third. The rookie used his length to get in the passing lanes and he finished the night with 12 points and two steals.
Hassan Whiteside chipped in a big 11-point, 10-rebound double-double and provided some size in the post.
Overall, the Kings bench managed to score 46 points in one of their better performances in a long time.
Make it rain
Buddy Hield missed his first four 3-pointers to open the game. And then he caught fire.
Needing all of their scorers hitting to keep up with the Suns, the Kings made a point to get Hield better looks. He responded by hitting his next five triples on his way to a 24 point night, although both he and Fox bricked pairs of free throws in the final two minutes that hurt the team’s chances.