Kings face Nets with chance to seal winning road mark
The Sacramento Kings are about to end a 16-year playoff drought, the longest such stretch in NBA history. The Kings are also closing in on ending a slightly longer run without a winning road record.
When De'Aaron Fox sank a last-second 3-pointer for a 117-114 win over the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday, it gave the Kings their 20th road of the season. Sacramento's first chance at clinching its first winning road record since 2003-04 occurs Thursday night when the Kings oppose the Brooklyn Nets in New York.
Fox scored 15 of his 32 in the fourth quarter in Chicago to give Sacramento its eighth road win by five points or fewer. The victory came after the Kings trailed by 10 at halftime.
"We didn't play well and we found a way to win tonight," Sacramento coach Mike Brown said.
The Kings also are on the verge of clinching their first winning season since 2005-06, when they finished 44-38 but were 17-24 on the road.
Sacramento's last winning road record occurred when it was 21-20 in 2003-04 during a stretch of five straight seasons with at least 50 wins.
The Kings are 9-2 in their past 11 games overall and 11-4 in their past 15 road contests, a stretch that includes a wild 176-175 double overtime win against the Los Angeles Clippers on Feb. 24.
Fox also has 10 30-point performances in his past 13 contests, and he has reached the 30-point mark in five of his past six road games. He capped that stretch with the winning basket on Wednesday.
"I have a whole group of guys and a coaching staff who believe in me," Fox said. "They have confidence in me taking the last shot, so the least I can do is go out there and have confidence in myself."
The Kings are second in the West, and their ascent started early when they won seven straight following a 3-6 start. One of those wins was a 153-121 home rout of Brooklyn when Sacramento shot 59.6 percent from the floor on Nov. 15.
The Nets are sixth in the East and a game behind the New York Knicks as they start a four-game homestand.
Brooklyn is returning from a 3-2 road trip and has won five of its past seven games since losing six of the first seven games with Mikal Bridges in the lineup.
In a 121-107 road loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday, Bridges scored 34 points for his seventh 30-point game since being acquired from the Phoenix Suns in the Kevin Durant deal.
Bridges' latest 30-point showing occurred on a night when the Nets held a 62-52 lead at halftime but put up just 45 points in the second half and were outscored 38-20 in the third quarter.
"I think we're good when we're down at the half and we play with a spark," Bridges said. "If we're up at the half, we have to play like we're down and play with that energy."
The blown lead occurred after the Nets earned comeback wins in Minnesota and Denver after trailing by eight at halftime in each game. The Nets also stormed back from a 28-point deficit on March 3 to earn a 10-point win in Boston.
On Tuesday, Brooklyn starters all played at least 34 minutes. With the Nets hoping to avoid falling into the play-in round, coach Jacque Vaughn likely will play his starters similar minutes again on Thursday.
"That's what playoff basketball is about," Vaughn said. "You're going to have to play every other day and you're going to have to play high minutes."
--Field Level Media
Updated March 16, 2023