Here are three takeaways from the Kings’ 116-112 win against the Washington Wizards on Friday night at Golden 1 Center.
Fox shines in duel with Wall
Kings point guard De’Aaron Fox was plagued by foul trouble early, but he still fared much better than he did last season as a rookie against John Wall and the Wizards.
Fox has been compared to Wall since he was in high school. Both played for coach John Calipari at Kentucky. Both have blinding quickness and elite end-to-end speed.
Fox scored 18 points on 7-of-14 shooting and made 2 of 5 from 3-point range. He also dished out nine assists, four of which came during a fourth-quarter run that gave the Kings a 98-97 lead with 6:17 left to play.
Wall finished with 26 points and eight assists.
Wall won their faceoffs decisively last season when Washington and Sacramento met twice over a span of about two weeks. Wall averaged 20 points and nine assists in those two contests, making 15 of 22 field-goal attempts and 9 of 10 from 3-point range while leading the Wizards to two resounding victories.
Fox averaged six points and five assists, making 4 of 18 from the field and 1 of 5 from beyond the arc. In the first game — his first career NBA start — he finished with two points after missing seven of eight shots.
“I feel like I’m an entirely different player now,” Fox said.
Another strong showing for Bjelica
Nemanja Bjelica finished with 26 points and 12 rebounds, continuing to show that the Kings’ front office made a savvy move when it signed him as a free agent this summer.
The 6-foot-10 forward had two 3-pointers and a nifty assist to key an 11-0 third-quarter run that gave the Kings their first lead since the opening period.
Sacramento was trailing 63-55 before Buddy Hield made a 3-pointer and Bjelica added two more, striking first from the top of the arc and then from the left wing to give the Kings a 64-63 advantage. Bjelica then grabbed a defensive rebound, pushed the ball up the floor in transition and made a pretty pass to Willie Cauley-Stein, who scored inside to put the Kings up by three.
Bjelica agreed to a three-year, $20.5 million deal with the Kings in July after spending his first three seasons with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Monster performance for Cauley-Stein
Kings center Willie Cauley-Stein turned in a tremendous performance, posting 17 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists to help the Kings win for the third time in four games.
A number of other players also contributed. Hield scored 22 points and made two clutch free throws in the final seconds. Rookie forward Marvin Bagley continued to provide a spark off the bench, finishing with 11 points and eight rebounds.