How De'Aaron Fox energized Kings after his rough first half vs. Bulls


When he's fully engaged in the action, Kings point guard De’Aaron Fox is a difference-maker. The 20-year-old looked out of sorts in the first half of Monday's 108-89 win over the Bulls, scoring just two points on a pair of free-throw makes.

And then he went off.

The former Kentucky star let his defense jump-start his offense in the third quarter, and the Bulls had no idea how to slow him down.

“For the most part, it started with the two steals, the steal I got, the dunk, got another steal and then Shump (Iman Shumpert) hit the three,” Fox said in his postgame interview. “That got all my juices flowing, my energy up, and then I started making shots.”

With Fox firing on all cylinders, his teammates got out of the way and let him shine. That’s been a hallmark of the Kings’ winning formula this season. They ride the hot hand and take turns having big moments.

Fox hit 8 of 11 shots in the second half to score 23 of his 25 points. He added six assists, four rebounds, four steals and one block in 34 minutes of action.

“De’Aaron Fox, what he did from the first half to the second half was awesome, and we need that,” Kings coach Dave Joerger said.

After trailing by 14 in the first half and as much as 12 in the third quarter, Fox and his Kings teammates outscored Chicago 38-19 in the period, and they didn’t let up there. In the fourth, Sacramento’s young core took turns pummeling the Bulls on their way to the victory.

After scoring just three points on 1-of-6 shooting in the first half, Buddy Hield found success late as well.

Hield hit back-to-back 3-pointers to get himself going late in the third quarter, and then added another 3-ball in the fourth to finish the night with 14 points on 5-of-11 shooting.

“We’re just doing our job and trying to figure out how to help our team win,” Hield said of the big second half for the Kings' starting backcourt. “Just push the tempo, make shots and make the right plays for our teammates.”

The combination of Fox and Hield outscored the Bulls 34-33 in the second half, as the Kings rolled up the home team by 30 after the break to come away with the win. The 33 points allowed in the second half is a new season-low for the Kings.

“The energy in the second half came from within,” Joerger said. “You’re always looking for emerging leaders, and guys grabbed onto each other, and they brought their own energy in the second half.”

[RELATED: Unnamed Kings players take big shot at Bulls]

Rookie Marvin Bagley chipped in 16 points and two rebounds playing against his former Duke teammate, Wendell Carter. Willie Cauley-Stein added an 11-point, 16-rebound double-double, and Bogdan Bogdanovic went for 16 points and six rebounds.

With the victory, the Kings improved to 14-12 on the season, including an 8-7 record on the road. They’ll travel home to face the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night at Golden 1 Center.

The schedule gets much tougher over the next 13 games for Sacramento. They’ll play 12 teams with a .500-or-better record, with the New Orleans Pelicans (14-15) as the lone exception.

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