Kings wasting De'Aaron Fox's career high vs. Spurs 'tough to swallow'

Kings wasting De'Aaron Fox's career high vs. Spurs 'tough to swallow'

In one of the biggest games in the last decade and half of Sacramento Kings basketball, the starting backcourt showed up in force. The rest of the team? Not so much.

The sprint to the finish line just got a whole harder when the Kings fell by a final of 129-120 to the San Antonio Spurs in their opening game of the restart.

De’Aaron Fox and Bogdan Bogdanovic carried the team with a combined 63 points, but the Kings failed to close out on perimeter shooters, didn’t box out on the glass and when the game was on the line, the Spurs were the team that executed.

The Kings have been waiting for that moment when Fox transformed himself from a very good young player to a star. We might have just seen the turn.

“De’Aaron had a pretty special game and we’re going to need it out of him again when we play in two days,” coach Luke Walton said.

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Fox absolutely torched the Spurs for a career-high 39 points on 17-of-33 shooting. He got to the rim anytime he wanted to and without his production, it would have been a blowout loss.

“He makes the game a lot easier for us, shooters especially, but we’ve got to be able to help him,” Bogdanovic said. “That was a good game. I’m sure he’s not happy about it.”

Fox’s ability to draw and kick left Bogdanovic open from the perimeter. The Kings’ starting shooting guard knocked down 6-of-11 from long range to finish with 24 points, but it wasn’t nearly enough.

Despite the strong performance, both Fox and Bogdanovic were clearly frustrated in their post game media sessions.

“It’s just tough to swallow because we feel like we had a chance to win,” Fox said following the loss. “But at the end of the day, the starting group can’t start like that, having to fight back. And that fourth quarter, they just executed down the stretch better than we did.”

Fox has every right to be frustrated. He had the game of his life, but he also spent a lot of energy digging his team out of holes. When the game was on the line, he may not have had enough gas in the tank to finish the way he wanted to.

In a stunning performance to open the Kings’ restart schedule. Sacramento was confident coming into Game 1, especially against a team like the Spurs, who were missing an All-Star in LaMarcus Aldridge.

The Kings have an extremely difficult schedule in front of them. The Spurs have made the playoffs in 22 consecutive seasons, but they are having a down year. This was an opportunity for the Kings to keep pace with the Trail Blazers for ninth place and even pick up a game on the eighth place Grizzlies.

But the Spurs are still coached by NBA legend Gregg Popovich. They still have veterans DeMar DeRozan and Rudy Gay. They are always prepared and against Sacramento, they were the more physical team and aggressive team.

“I think they wanted it more,” Fox said following the game. “They got after loose balls more than we did tonight. That helped them. That kept them in the game in the time being and then at the end they were able to execute better than us.”

It’s back to the drawing board for the Kings. They have Saturday to make adjustments, but then it’s right back to the schedule on Sunday when they’ll play the Orlando Magic.

Games come fast and furious as the Kings play eight games in a total of 15 nights.

No Defense

During the three-game scrimmage schedule, Sacramento was slow to close out on perimeter shooters. That was the case again on Friday.

San Antonio shot only 25 3-pointers, but most of them were uncontested and 11 of the attempts went through the net.

“Tonight, it wasn’t good enough from the things we could control, and then you’ve got to give San Antonio credit, their guys stepped up and knocked down shots when they had a chance,” Walton said.

Overall, the Spurs shot 53.3 percent from the field. They moved the ball well, finishing with 32 assists on 48 made baskets.

[RELATED: Kings, Spurs kneel during anthem]

The disappearance of Buddy Hield

Hield is always streaky, but seldom does he have a game like he did on Friday. The Kings’ second leading scorer on the season is one of the better 3-point shooters in the NBA. Against the Spurs, he shot just 1-of-8 from behind the arc and 2-for-13 overall.

If the Kings have a shot to bounce back, they need more than six points and three turnovers from one of their better players.

Luka Doncic's triple-double makes NBA history in Mavs' win over Bucks

Luka Doncic's triple-double makes NBA history in Mavs' win over Bucks

Another game, another insane, eye-popping stat line from Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic.

The 21-year-old Serbian star put on a show Saturday night in the Mavericks' 136-132 overtime win over Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks in Orlando, Florida.

Doncic finished with a staggering 36 points, 19 assists and 14 rebounds. It was his 17th triple-double of the 2019-20 NBA season, and in the process, Doncic made history.

Just look at a few of the shots and passes Doncic made late in the Mavs' win over the Bucks. It looks like a varsity player going up against the JV team.

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Two years into Doncic's NBA career, it's safe to say the Phoenix Suns, Sacramento Kings and Atlanta Hawks are kicking themselves for passing on the superstar. In the case of the Hawks, they actually drafted Doncic at No. 3 overall, but traded him to the Mavericks for Trae Young and a 2019 first-round draft pick, which they used on Cam Reddish.

The Suns drafted center DeAndre Ayton No. 1 overall, while the Kings infamously decided to take forward Marvin Bagley over Doncic at No. 2.

In hindsight, those three decisions are turning out to be franchise-altering. Ayton is averaging 17.2 points and 10.7 rebounds through two seasons, while Bagley has dealt with injuries and has played in 75 games his first two seasons. He's averaging 14.8 points and 7.6 rebounds per game. Neither has come close to making the type of impact Doncic has made.

[RELATED: Barnes takes blame for Kings' poor performance]

Young is an NBA All-Star and has the potential to be really good, but Doncic looks like he's on a different level right now. Even Young took notice of what Doncic did Saturday night.

Doncic isn't an MVP finalist this year, but it's only a matter of time before he's holding that trophy. He's getting better each year, and he's going to make the teams that passed on him pay for the next two decades.

Damian Lillard, Paul George have beef after late missed free throws

Damian Lillard, Paul George have beef after late missed free throws

Oakland native Damian Lillard isn’t afraid to speak his mind, especially when criticism is thrown his way.

The normally clutch Lillard, who has ended multiple NBA playoff series with a game-winning shot, missed two key free throws late in the Portland Trail Blazers’ loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday.

Patrick Beverly, who himself is famous for mixing it up with opposing point guards, had some words for Lillard from the sideline.

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Beverly was a member of the Houston Rockets team Lillard sent home in the first round of 2014 NBA Playoffs, and Clippers star Paul George was the man contesting Lillard on his buzzer-beater that eliminated George and the Oklahoma City Thunder from the postseason last spring. Lillard brought both of them up during his postgame interview with TNT’s Taylor Rooks, and George clapped back in the comment section.

George and the Clippers have a playoff spot clinched and currently would be the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference, while Lillard’s Trail Blazers are 1.5 games behind the Memphis Grizzlies for the eighth and final playoff spot.

As with many NBA beefs in recent years, the discourse continued in the comment section.

George also posted a message on his Instagram story addressing the back-and-forth.

[RELATED: Lillard wanted name of Oakland's Oscar Grant on jersey]

George, a six-time All-Star, suffered a gruesome compound fracture in his right leg during a 2014 Team USA scrimmage in preparation for the FIBA World Cup, causing him to miss most of the 2014-15 regular season.

Lillard’s rare failure in the clutch benefited the Kings, as a win by the Trail Blazers would have eliminated Sacramento from postseason contention. The Kings currently are two full games behind Portland for the ninth spot in the West, with three games remaining before the playoff field is solidified.

Hopefully for NBA fans everywhere (except in Sacramento) Lillard and the Trail Blazers find a way into the postseason so we can get another chance to see him go up against Beverly, George and the Clippers.