All of the buzz among NBA fans was about the debut of the Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving, and who could blame them? It was finally time for potentially the deadliest backcourt in the league to get in a game, and many thought they would win.
De’Aaron Fox and the Sacramento Kings, who got a fair bit of flak for not making any big moves while the rest of the Western Conference loaded up on talent, would not oblige them though. The Kings won a tightly fought 133-128 game in extra time.
Fox was at the center of it all, as he completely took over the fourth quarter and overtime. He finished the game with 36 points, four rebounds, five assists and two steals, with 26 of those points coming in the fourth quarter and OT. Fox’s 14 points in overtime were the highest total for any player this season.
It was a huge victory for Sacramento for a number of reasons, chiefly among them being the fact that the Dallas Mavericks are hot on their tails for the third seed in the Western Conference. A Dallas win would have pushed them to third, but the Kings managed to stave them off and maintain their position with a 32-24 record.
It was the kind of game that the Kings should have lost, too. The Mavericks shot the lights out from three, making 20 of 51 attempts, while Kings made 8 of 32 of their long-range shots. However, Sacramento managed to make up for that disparity by outworking the Mavericks in the paint, where the scoring advantage was 74-46 in favor of the winners.
Domantas Sabonis was huge in the game too, finishing with 22 points, 14 rebounds, two assists and steal, but he fouled out with 1:27 left in overtime. Terence Davis also deserves a shoutout for the Kings, because he filled an injured Malik Monk’s minutes with an impressive performance on both ends of the floor.
The Mavericks definitely got a glimpse of what to look forward to from Irving and Doncic, though. The new acquisition finished with 28 points, seven rebounds, seven assists, a steal and a block. Their homegrown star finished with 27 points, nine rebounds and five assists.
For much of the game, the threat that the two posed on the floor for defense had their shooters wide open. A big part of why they made so many threes is because both Irving and Doncic kept demanding double teams, causing a giant mess for the Kings defense and allowing people to be open all the time.
The Kings made some adjustments late in the game that saw their defenders play one-on-one for the most part with the two stars, and that helped them force a few turnovers and even a shot clock violation. It’s hard to sustain that over a full game, but that may be the only way for teams to hope to continuously beat Doncic and Irving. The two are simply so talented and can get buckets when they please.