It took De’Aaron Fox just seconds into his return to ignite the Kings offense, and Sacramento’s firepower never cooled off in a 132-120 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers at Golden 1 Center. After missing the Kings’ previous five games with an ankle injury, Fox swiped the tip-off jump ball and immediately attacked the basket – he missed the initial shot, but tipped in the rebound for Sacramento’s first bucket, just 6 seconds into the game. It was a sign of vibes to come, as Fox scored 28 points on 11-20 shooting and looked like he hadn’t missed a beat. Keegan Murray, Domantas Sabonis, and Kevin Huerter all joined Fox with 20 or more points, and Sacramento shot 59% from the field and sank 20 three pointers while keeping a talented Cavaliers squad at arms length for the 2nd half. Coach Mike Brown secured his 400th career victory against the squad that started his NBA tenure, and Coach earned the DPOG Crown.
Murray finished with 25 points and 8 rebounds on 9-13 shooting, and, most importantly, shot 5-8 from 3. Keegan has been a star this season at everything but deep shooting, and finally seemed to break through his shooting slump – while also snagging big rebounds against the taller Cavs opponents and playing the best defense of the Kings starters. Keegan was matched up for much of the night against Donovan Mitchell, and while Mitchell had a team-high 22 points for Cleveland, he shot just 7-21 from the field and was clearly bothered by Murray’s length. If the DPOG Crown hadn’t gone to Brown in recognition of his 400th career win, I have no doubt it would have gone to Murray.
Keegan Murray’s opponents are shooting 46.9% at the rim this season, 12.5% worse than their average.
That’s good enough for 15th in the NBA.
— SactownBabyGiraffe (@TimMaxwell22) November 14, 2023
Sacramento got offense contributions across the board, with six Kings finishing in double-figures. Sabonis finished with a near-triple-double, with 23 points, 10 assists, and 9 rebounds, and attacked the Cavs big combo of Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen with regularity and confidence. Kevin Huerter had 20 points with 6 made threes, and scored 11 points during a big 13-5 run in the 3rd quarter that helped give the Kings a commanding lead they’d never relinquish. Malik Monk finished with 13 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists with some ridiculous passes, and drew one big charge in the 4th quarter that had Mike Brown more animated than anything else in the contest.
The Cavaliers never fully faded in the contest and made some moves in the 4th quarter, cutting Sacramento’s lead down to 126-113 with 3:13 left to play. But apparently J.B. Bickerstaff had seen enough, as he pulled his starters at that point, long before Brown did. The Cavs had 7 players in double-figures, as Mobley had 16 points and 11 boards and Caris LeVert had 21 points off the bench.
After missing the past few games, Sasha Vezenkov gave the Kings a big lift as the first reserve called in by Brown. He scored 8 points of his 11 points in the first quarter to help the Kings early offense stay ignited. Keon Ellis, who started the last 3 games in place of Fox, was the backup PG tonight when Fox rested. He didn’t have the cleanest evening and shot just 1-3 from the field, but had some strong defensive moments against Mitchell and Darius Garland. Davion Mitchell did not see the court tonight.
The Kings improved to 5-4 on the season and 4-1 at Golden 1 Center, but now head off for a 6-game roadtrip that tips off against the Lakers on Wednesday in Los Angeles.