SACRAMENTO -- We got a barn-burner. The Kings and Washington Wizards came into Friday night’s matchup as two of the NBA’s worst defensive teams. Neither did anything to dispel that notion in a wild, up-and-down battle at Golden 1 Center.
The Kings battled adversity throughout the evening and when the game was on the line, they did what needed to do to come away with a big-time, 116-112 win.
Nemanja Bjelica hit the long ball, Buddy Hield came through in the clutch, De’Aaron Fox battled through foul trouble and Willie Cauley-Stein checked all the boxes to help Sacramento move to 3-3 on the young season.
Here are three takeaways as the Kings improved to .500 on the season:
Who is this Bjelica guy?
Nemanja Bjelica was on his way back to Europe when Vlade Divac and Peja Stojakovic came calling. The veteran forward had struggled to find a role with the Minnesota Timberwolves, and was done with the NBA game.
He’s quickly found a home in Sacramento as a jack-of-all-trades big. He rebounds, blocks shots and hits the 3-ball. Against the Wizards, the 6-foot-10 Serbian scored 26 points, grabbed 12 rebounds, dished out three assists and blocked a shot.
Kings fans may not be able to say his name correctly, but they have to love what they are seeing from the veteran.
After fighting a who’s-who of NBA bigs through the first week of the season, Willie Cauley-Stein went to work against Ian Mahinmi. He didn’t put up giant scoring numbers, but he filled up every category on the stat sheet for Sacramento.
If Cauley-Stein can give the Kings 17 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists and two steals every night, they are going to need to pay the man.
Fox vs. Wall derailed by the whistle
In what should have been the matchup of the night, De’Aaron Fox spent much of the evening sitting on the sidelines for breathing heavily on John Wall.
The Kings' sophomore guard found a way to stay on the court late in the game and managed to score 18 points on 7-of-14 shooting. He added nine assists, but played just 30 minutes do to an abundance of tough calls.