In perhaps their most impressive victory of a mostly miserable campaign this year, the Sacramento Kings dominated the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday evening, handing their Pacific Division rival their fifth loss at home this season. The Kings were buoyed by a franchise-record 21 made three-pointers, along with the stellar play of De’Aaron Fox, who scored a career-high 34 points, as well as recording 8 assists, 3 rebounds, 4 steals, and 2 blocks. Montrezl Harrell and Lou Williams were their usual selves for the Clippers, combining for 43 points off of the bench, but with Kawhi Leonard a late scratch and Paul George scoring just 8 points on 10 shots, the Kings built and sustained a double-digit lead for the entire second half of the game.
The Kings started off relatively well, building a 10-6 advantage behind the aggressive play of De’Aaron Fox, who scored or assisted on Sacramento’s first 12 points of the game, but the Clippers used a 10-0 run of their own to grab six point lead. Sacramento’s main point of attack came from beyond the arc, as the Kings sunk six of their nine attempts; however, L.A.’s bench built a comfortable lead for the Clips. Montrezl Harrell, the career-long Kings killer, continued his tradition of mowing down Sacramento’s front court, scoring 10 points on 4/4 shooting from the floor, grabbing 3 boards, and dishing out one assist in just under four minutes. He was especially effective against Harry Giles’ smaller frame, drawing two and-one opportunities in less than two minutes of game time. The Clippers held a 33-28 lead after one.
After a bit of a worrisome start that saw the Kings fall behind by double digits, Luke Walton got the squad refocused in the second period, and Sacramento dominated the period on both ends of the floor. The hot shooting continued from deep, as the Kings knocked down a franchise-record 15 three-pointers in the first half, and that three-point wealth was spread throughout the entire team. Dewayne Dedmon knocked down one, Kent Bazemore sunk a pair, De’Aaron Fox also made two, Buddy Hield and Bogdan Bogdanovic were both responsible for a trio of triples, and Cory Joseph was the surprise sniper of the night, knocking down four of his own long-balls. The defensive end of the court was also fully within the Kings control, as the Clippers scored just 14 points in the quarter, including just nine points over the first nine minutes. Harrell continued to ball out for Los Angeles, but the Kings were successful in slowing down Paul George, holding the star to just four points on six shots. De’Aaron Fox was the main man for the Kings, recording 16 points and dishing out 3 assists, while Cory Joseph put in 14 points of his own. In perhaps the most shocking twist of the season, the Kings walked into the locker room with a commanding 64-47 lead.
Shooting unsustainably deep from the three-point line, holding Paul George to just four points, and building a 17 point advantage before half-time felt like the perfect recipe for a Kangz-flavored disaster, but in a surprising show of maturity, the Kings simply continued to execute at a high level in their traditionally disastrous third quarter, despite only making three triples. De’Aaron Fox remained the best player on the court for either team, scoring another nine points and and handing out an additional three dimes to put his totals at 25 points, 6 assists and 2 steals through three quarters. Meanwhile, Montrezl Harrell finally quieted down for the Clippers, failing to put in a single point during the period, but Lou Williams and Landry Shamet took up the slack for Los Angeles, combining for 30 points through the first 36 minutes. Despite outscoring the Kings 24-21 in the quarter, the Clippers faced a 14 point deficit heading into the fourth.
The final twelve minutes were mostly a repeat of the previous three quarters. The Kings continued to knock down three-pointers, De’Aaron Fox continued to dominate every player who tried their best to stop him, and Sacramento’s lead never dropped under 16 points during the period. The benches cleared with a few minutes left to play, and the Kings secured their first victory over an opponent with a record better than .500 since beating the Oklahoma City Thunder on December 11th. After enjoying the sweet taste of three wins in four games, the Kings will head back home to face the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday evening.
Player of the Game
De’Aaron Fox: 34 points (14/24 FG, 3/4 3P), 8 assists, 4 steals, 3 rebounds, 2 blocks
Play of the Game
- Dewayne Dedmon had perhaps his best performance of the season, putting up a double-double (11 points, 11 rebounds) along with 4 steals and 3 blocks. He was the key to Sacramento’s rim protection throughout the evening.
- After Harry Giles fouled Montrezl Harrell twice in fewer than two minutes, he was removed from the game and did not return, even in garbage time.
- Bogdan Bogdanovic scored 15 points on just six field goal attempts for a true shooting percentage of 116.5%.