By Morris Phillips
SACRAMENTO–The biggest week of Kings’ basketball in over a decade almost transpired without an essential conclusion: a win over the shorthanded, hapless Pistons.
Losers of all nine of their road contests, and minus three starters, Detroit didn’t get the memo or read the Kings’ storybook. Instead they came out firing, led almost the entire way, and were tenuously in control with 4:16 remaining, up 124-119.
That’s when the 17,866 in attendance turned the volume up, while Kevin Huerter and De’Aaron Fox took control on the hardwood. Fox started the final push with a dunk in transition off Huerter’s steal, then the second of Huerter’s two 3-pointers gave the Kings a 131-127 lead with 1:29 remaining.
Fox dismissed the Pistons on a jumper with 56 seconds to go, and two made free throws with 22 seconds left that sealed it. In all, Sacramento’s starting backcourt combined for 14 of the team’s final 18 points, and Fox led the Kings with 33 points, seven assists.
“He’s playing at an All-Star level. He’s doing it on the offensive end, the defensive end,” said Harrison Barnes of Fox. “It’s a credit to him and the amount of work he put in this summer.”
Huerter added 24 points, and Domantas Sabonis had 15 points, 13 rebounds as all five Kings’ starters scored at least 13 points.
The Pistons got 24 points from rookie Jaden Ivey, who was a headliner in a matchup with fellow, top 5 draft pick Keegan Murray. The Kings’ rookie started on Sunday after missing the previous game against the Spurs and finished with 13 on 4 of 10 shooting.
Marvin Bagley also got a few hits on Twitter, as a reminder that this was his first game back in Sacramento following the trade deadline deal that shipped him to Detroit. The 6’11” Bagley didn’t figure to hold up as the only true frontcourt presence for the visitors in the absence of Saddiq Bey and Isaiah Stewart, but he did. Bagley played 21 minutes and scored 11 of his 15 points after halftime. The former No. 2 overall pick for Sacramento was playing just his fifth game after missing the first 13 games of the season with a knee sprain.
The Kings six-game win streak is their first since January 2005, and the perfect complement to Tuesday’s electrifying, 153-121 win over Brooklyn on national TV that created all the buzz. Thursday’s win over the Spurs kept the party going, and Sunday’s crowd, the biggest in the history of the Golden 1 Center confirmed the fan base has taken notice.
The Kings are three games over .500 for the first time since February 13, 2019 when they were 30-27 in support of the underappreciated coaching of Dave Joerger.
With all the excitement surrounding his team, coach Mike Brown stood alone in his subdued reaction. The Pistons 61 percent shooting before halftime, and their 102 points after three quarters left a sour taste.
“We were not good at all defensively tonight,” Brown said. “We got lucky.”
WHAT HAPPENED TO TD?: Terence Davis, the first player in NBA history to notch at least 30 points, seven rebounds, seven 3-pointers and three steals on 70-percent shooting from the field in a single game barely played on Sunday.
Davis wasn’t hurt, just not needed in the minds of the Kings’ coaching staff. Davis’ record night was Tuesday against the Nets. Then on Thursday he scored five points in 15 minutes against the Spurs. And on Sunday, with Murray back in the starting lineup, Davis sat the entire first half, and played just three minutes in the third quarter. He finished with three points.
Do the Kings have quality depth? Apparently so.