Kings rookie point guard De’Aaron Fox missed the second half of Sunday’s preseason game against the Los Angeles Lakers with a bruised lower back.
In the second quarter of the Kings’ 75-69 loss at T-Mobile Arena, Fox exited after landing hard on a drive to the basket. He returned to the game, finished with a dunk in traffic just before halftime, but left the court in obvious pain.
Fox was upbeat about the situation after the game. He said he received treatment during the second half.
“I’ll be all right,” Fox said. “They want me to do X-rays and I’m going to do it, but at this point I’ll be fine.”
Fox came off the bench Sunday, as veteran George Hill was in the starting lineup. Fox finished with three points on 1-of-6 shooting and two assists in nine minutes.
After the fall, Fox was on the sidelines wincing and holding his back before training staff put a heating pad on it. He returned to the game but was obviously bothered as he continued to hold his back and move gingerly at times. He was ruled out of the game at halftime.
Kings coach Dave Joerger said Fox’s availability for Monday’s preseason game against the Portland Trail Blazers at Golden 1 Center would be determined prior to tip-off.
“After I fell I shot the free throw, it was kind of fine. The second one was short,” Fox said. “And the more I played, the more I felt it. When I came to the bench, put heat on it so it loosened it up so I was fine and played more on it. I got that dunk, you feel me? But after that it tightened up and they didn’t want to risk anything.”
Zach Randolph led the Kings (1-2) with 16 points. Hill finished with seven points and eight rebounds.
Julius Randle of the Lakers (1-3) led all players with 17 points and 10 rebounds.
Scheduling – The Kings finish the preseason two sets of back-to-back games. The first set began with Sunday’s game against the Lakers and includes Monday’s home contest against Portland. They travel to face the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday and Golden State Warriors on Friday.
Joerger said scheduling was not a concern for him as the team prepares for their Oct. 18 regular-season opener at home against the Houston Rockets.
“I was worried about practice first and foremost, and playing back-to-back allows more gaps for practice,” Joerger said. “Because if you play the night before, you’ve got to push them pretty hard in practice the next day and you can’t go as long, they won’t have the legs.”
The Kings prepared for this by adding point guard Marcus Williams at the start of training camp, giving them another player to use so minutes wouldn’t pile up on the guards as quickly.
Monday’s game will be the third in four nights for the Kings, who played at San Antonio on Friday. They used the day off Saturday to practice at UNLV.
The schedule has allowed Joerger to be flexible with his lineups. He sat his five most experienced players in San Antonio, turning the game over to the younger players for a night.
Those players – Hill, Randolph, Garrett Temple, Vince Carter and Kosta Koufos – all played Sunday.
“Back-to-backs can be positive as far as if you have a lot of guys, they can get opportunities,” Joerger said. “And you’re also able to play some guys and sit them if you want to do that.”
Remembering the tragedy – The Kings, Lakers, T-Mobile Arena, AEG and MGM Resorts International pledged to donate proceeds from the game to efforts aid victims of last Sunday’s mass shooting at a concert by the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.
Players from each team wore shirts with “#VegasStrong” on them and fans at the game received shirts with the same message.
Lakers president Magic Johnson addressed the crowd before the game and asked fans in attendance to lock arms during a moment of silence prior to the national anthem.
No go – Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball missed the game with a sprained ankle.
It was the second time in Las Vegas that Ball was injured for a game against the Kings and Fox. He missed the Kings-Lakers summer league game with a groin injury.
Ball was the second overall pick in June’s NBA draft and Fox was fifth. Both were generally considered two of the best guard prospects available.
Ball’s injuries in both cases led internet conspiracy theorists to say Ball was dodging Fox, who scored 39 points for Kentucky when his Wildcats knocked off Ball’s UCLA squad in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.