Wednesday was a fantastic night for the Sacramento Kings. Despite playing without Kevin Huerter (ankle), being down 16 early, head coach Mike Brown getting ejected in the third quarter and some questionable officiating, the Kings were able to walk away with a signature win, defeating the Toronto Raptors 124-123 on the road, improving to 15-12 on the season.
This was the penultimate game on their rough six-game road stretch in which they played four of the East’s top six teams. After tonight, Sacramento is 2-3 with a chance to return home with a record of .500 on the road trip.
After an embarrassing last two games, this was a must-win for Sacramento. For teams like them in the middle of the pack, even a three-game skid can do a lot of damage to their chances at a postseason berth. But this team has repeatedly shown us they aren’t going to fold like Kings teams of the past. They have grit and aren’t backing down from anybody.
Let’s take a look at some of the takeaways from tonight.
Is De’Aaron Fox back?
The month of December hasn’t been pretty for the Kings’ leader. He started off with three pretty mediocre games where he just didn’t look right. Then we come to find out he’s been battling injuries that led to him sitting for two games.
But then tonight happened.
All-Star Fox in Toronto Tonight:— Sacramento Kings (@SacramentoKings) December 15, 2022
6 REBS pic.twitter.com/FeMarZ1pKz
Tonight, Fox looked like an All-Star again. Not only did he shoot well from deep going 4-for-8, but he was an excellent facilitator, all while battling against both his defenders and the referees.
Fox’s play just adds another element to this team that opponents fear and stay up at night thinking about. The Fox and Domantas Sabonis two-man game were crucial in the Kings getting back into the game after an early deficit.
But it wasn’t just the star duo that won this game, there was moment in the third quarter that lit a fire in their hearts.
Fighting for your team
For 48 minutes, the Kings were abused and attacked by the Raptors. Meanwhile, the officials continuously looked in the opposite direction. People always complain about officials, but do you see Fox’s eye above? There was no foul called on that play. And that was just the tip of the iceberg.
The Kings got absolutely zero love from the refs tonight. The Kings did not shoot a single free throw in both the first and third quarters. A team whose two best players almost live in the paint. It got so bad that head coach Mike Brown decided to take action... leading to his ejection.
Mike Brown just got ejected pic.twitter.com/X1GLaFLhh9— Cameron Salerno (@cameronsalerno1) December 15, 2022
In a lot of situations, a team’s head coach getting ejected when the team is down on the road usually spells trouble. But not for the Kings. Along with the great staff — led by Jordi Fernandez — that took control and held the team down, this team took the ejection as a sign of how much their coach cares about them. So instead of falling apart, they got fired up.
Malik Monk said:
“Do it for him. Fox got fouled, obviously, and it wasn’t called. We was getting hacked the whole game and not getting any calls. So Mike just had to take one for the team and bring the energy up and we just fed off that.”
This Kings team truly plays for one another and cares about their team like they're family. No matter how talented you may be, if you don’t have the right amount of chemistry, your team will not live up to its potential. The Kings really showed us something tonight.
The sixth and final game on this road trip will be at the Detroit Pistons on Friday at 4:00pm PST. This is a must win game for the Kings. Not just for their record, but because they are the better team. They are in a position where simply cannot lose games to bad teams. The Pistons are 8-22 on the year and will be without their star Cade Cunningham.