We briefly went over Sacramento’s 35 point comeback against Chicago in another one of our tales, but despite that deficit, it isn’t the most impressive comeback in Kings history. That would be much more recently, when the Kings came back from 17 points down… with just 2:49 left in the game.
This tale begins on January 27th, 2020 with the Kings visiting the Minnesota Timberwolves. Sacramento trailed near the entire game, and late in the 3rd quarter the Kings found themselves down 27 points. The Kings made a few runs in the fourth and chipped away at the lead, but with 2:49 left, Andrew Wiggins drilled a three pointer to make the game 115-98 and put the game seemingly out of reach.
A minute later and it wasn’t much better, with the Kings still down 14 after Keita Bates-Diop made a layup. The Wolves fouled De’Aaron Fox and sent him to the line with 1:39 left and took the time to sub out their stars Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. After all, the game was over right?
Fox made both of his free throws and then blocked Jordan McLaughlin off the backboard on the other end. Bogdan Bogdanovic tried to push the pace and hit a three, but it was blocked out of bounds by Bates-Diop and the Kings reset. Buddy Hield caught the ball on the left wing, faked a drive and then stepped back and made a three of his own to cut the lead to single digits.
On the other end, the Kings pressured but the Wolves were able to find Naz Reid in the paint where he missed an absolute bunny. Harrison Barnes was fouled and made both of his free throws. Seven point game. With just 39 seconds left, the Kings intentionally fouled Josh Okogie, who made both of his free throws to put it back to a nine point game with 39 seconds left.
The Kings called timeout to advance the ball. Nemanja Bjelica found De’Aaron Fox on the far side, who immediately passed to Buddy Hield for three. He missed but the officials called a shooting foul on Bates-Diop and Hield went to the line and made all of his free throw to cut the lead to 6. At this point, the Wolves put in all their starters again and the Kings once again went to intentionally foul, this time fouling Shabazz Napier, a career 81.5% free throw shooter. Napier missed the first… and then the second. The Kings got the rebound and called their final timeout, advancing the ball one more. Yet again, the ball went to Buddy Hield and this time he just pulled up from 30 feet and shot over the smaller Napier, making it a three point game with 30.9 seconds left.
The Wolves had the ball, and time on their side. They called timeout and ran an out-of-bounds play for Andrew Wiggins, who at that point had 31 points. Wiggins dribbled most of the shot clock out before a switch saw him matched up against Nemanja Bjelica. He drove on Bjelica and got some space with a spin move to shoot a fadeaway jumper from the elbow … but it was just short and De’Aaron Fox was able to secure the rebound with 7.2 seconds left.
Knowing a three pointer was all that could hurt them, the Wolves opted to foul Fox with 4.7 seconds left and send him to the line instead. The Kings would have to make the first and then intentionally miss. There were no timeouts to run a play after if they were able to secure the rebound. They would have to score quickly.
Fox stepped to the line and made the first free throw. Then on the second he threw it perfectly off the front rim and got to the ball before anyone else, laying it up and in to tie the game with 3.6 seconds left. It capped off a 16-2 run in the final two minutes and Karl-Anthony Towns missed a shot at the buzzer to try to win it in regulation, sending the game to overtime.
With momentum on their side, the Kings were able to outlast the Timberwolves and win the game by 4 in the extra frame. It was not only one of the most remarkable comeback victories in Kings history, but one of the most remarkable in NBA history.