What we learned as Fox’s absence felt in Kings’ loss to Warriors originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area
SAN FRANCISCO — The Kings were presented with their biggest challenge yet this season and came close to acing it.
Sacramento was without guard De’Aaron Fox for its second matchup with the Northern California rival Golden State Warriors on Wednesday at Chase Center, and the Kings almost pulled off the upset before losing 102-101 on a last-second shot by Klay Thompson.
Wednesday’s game was a mixed bag for the Kings. Some rose to the occasion with Fox out because of a moderate ankle sprain sustained Sunday, while others were nowhere to be found. It turns out, it’s very hard to replace one of the best scorers in the game.
Here are three observations as the Kings fell to 2-2 this season:
It takes a village
The Kings were without a major piece as their superstar guard watched from the bench. But early on, third-year NBA guard Davion Mitchell, who started in place of Fox, provided an early boost for Sacramento.
Replacing Fox’s 31.3 points per game this season isn’t easy, but Mitchell and the Kings’ supporting cast stepped up early and kept Sacramento in the game.
Mitchell drilled two 3-pointers in the game’s opening minutes and had six first-quarter points. Veteran guards Malik Monk and Kevin Huerter chipped in nine and seven respectively. While he didn’t light up the box score with his scoring, Huerter was all over the glass and tallied nine rebounds.
Mitchell, Monk, Huerter and Barnes combined for 54 points with center Domantas Sabonis scoring 23 of his own, but a cold night from one key shooter might have been the difference.
Kept the bad man in check
It’s safe to say the Kings might be sick of Steph Curry at this point.
After a historic 50-point performance in Game 7 of the Kings’ first-round NBA playoff series loss to the Warriors, Curry scored 41 in Sacramento’s loss to the Golden State on Oct. 27.
The Warriors’ sharpshooter has tormented Sacramento, but the Kings did an admirable job of keeping Curry in check throughout the first half Wednesday. The 35-year-old scored just eight first-half points on 3-of-6 shooting from the field and 2 of 4 from 3-point range.
Curry finished the game with a modest 21 points on 7-of-15 shooting from the field and 4 of 10 from distance.
Oddly enough, while the Kings limited the damage from Curry, the Warriors received a huge boost from Draymond Green and Dario Šarić, who combined for 28 points and five 3-pointers.
With Fox out, the Kings were relying on second-year NBA forward Keegan Murray to step up offensively. Murray finished the first half with just two points on an eye-popping 0-for-8 shooting from the field while missing all seven of his 3-point attempts. He was ice-cold.
Somehow, without Fox and with Murray struggling the way he did through three quarters, Sacramento held a 79-74 lead over Golden State heading into the fourth quarter.
Murray finished the game with 10 points on 4-of-15 shooting from the field and 0 of 7 from behind the arc on what ended up being a very disappointing night for the rookie 3-point record holder.