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De’Aaron Fox’s clutch free-throw shooting pushes Kings past Heat

Jimmy Butler missed a shot in the paint at the buzzer to tie the game

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Miami Heat v Sacramento Kings Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

With just 6.2 seconds left, the Sacramento Kings led the Miami Heat 115-113, just needing a single stop to secure a victory over one of the best teams in the eastern conference.

The Heat inbounded the ball to Jimmy Butler who, went into the lane and was ultimately stifled by several Kings around the rim, who forced him to miss a contested shot in the paint.

The possession before that, De’Aaron Fox broke a 113-113 tie, hitting a pair of clutch free throws to give the Kings the lead. After missing two consecutive clutch free throws against the Charlotte Hornets on Dec. 11 to lose the Kings in that contest, it was great to see Fox come up clutch in a similar situation.

Those two clutch free throws were two of his career-high 14 makes from the free-throw stripe, as he finished 14 of 15 for the game. Fox has quietly gotten his free throw shot a lot more consistent and now sits at 75.1% on the season. Fox’s non-free throw stats were less spectacular on Sunday as he made just five of his 12 shot attempts, but the aggression Fox played with was encouraging to see.

Buddy Hield was tremendous for the Kings, scoring 26 points and making seven three-pointers. With other Kings like Harrison Barnes and Tyrese Haliburton struggling offensively, Hield’s contributions were a big factor in Sacramento pulling out this game.

Starting in place of Richaun Holmes, Damian Jones had a tremendous game, ending with a double-double of 18 points and ten rebounds, bringing his usual mix of athleticism and energy to the floor.

Sunday was an encouraging game for the Kings but should be taken with a grain of salt considering the Heat were without several key players due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

The Kings will hit the road for the first time in ages but will stay in California to play the Los Angeles Lakers at the Center.