The Sacramento Kings' darling status was temporarily revoked earlier this week after they got into a fracas in the closing seconds of their loss to the Milwaukee Bucks. But on Wednesday night, the positive vibes they've been riding for most of the season returned in a thrilling 117-114 win over the Chicago Bulls.
Down by 16 in the first half, the Kings came storming back to take the lead in the third quarter, and seemed to have pulled away for good after De'Aaron Fox hit a pull-up jumper to give them a six-point lead with 41 seconds remaining. As it turned out, that was not the biggest shot he would hit all night.
With 12.5 seconds left, DeMar DeRozan pulled up for a quick 3-pointer off the hand-off from Nikola Vucevic and drained a 3-pointer from the top of the key while being fouled by Harrison Barnes. The veteran then stepped to the line and calmly made the free throw to complete the rare four-point play and tie the game.
DEMAR DEROZAN 4 POINT PLAY. TIE GAME IN CHICAGO 😱— NBA (@NBA) March 16, 2023
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The silver lining for the Kings was that they had the ball and a chance to win the game. Fox isolated at the top of the key, letting as much time as possible roll off the clock so that the worst-case scenario would be overtime. It turned out that would not be necessary. In yet another clutch moment for the All-Star point guard, Fox drained a 3 right in Ayo Dosunmu's face for the win.
DE'AARON FOX CALLED GAME 😱— NBA (@NBA) March 16, 2023
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"I have a whole group of guys and coaching staff who believe in me and they have confidence in me taking the last shot," Fox told reporters afterward. "So the least I could do is go out there and have confidence in myself."
Fox finished with 32 points on 12-of-17 shooting from the field, but the bigger story was that he continued to shine in late-game situations. In clutch situations this season (game within five points with less than five minutes remaining), Fox has 180 points -- 42 more than the next closest player, who coincidentally is DeRozan -- and is shooting 54.8 percent from the field.
"My team trusts me to take any shot that I take in the fourth quarter," he added. "So not just that shot, but even scoring leading up to that. They continue to have confidence in me. So just having the confidence to pull that shot and to make it, that's all that was."
His play down the stretch is a big reason why the Kings are 9-7 in three-point games this season; no other top-six team in the West has a winning record in such situations.