Kings Analysis

What we learned as Fox, Huerter outshine Wemby in Kings' win

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SACRAMENTO -- The Kings returned to action following the All-Star break Thursday night and held off a late charge by Victor Wembanyama and the San Antonio Spurs for a gritty 127-122 win at Golden 1 Center.

The No. 1 overall pick of the 2023 NBA Draft made his Sacramento debut, and all eyes were on all 7 feet and 4 inches of the French phenom.

But the Kings stars put on a show of their own, escaping with a late victory over the Spurs on the backs of a big night from Kevin Huerter and consistent play from De'Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis.

Sacramento won its first game back from the break and improved to 32-23, but things won't get any easier for the Kings as they look to close out the season by climbing the Western Conference standings.

Here are the takeaways from the Kings' win.

Not your average rookie 

Sacramento fans stormed Golden 1 Center early eager to find their seats, as their favorite team hadn’t played a game for seven days -- but that wasn’t the reason why.

Wembanyama played his first contest in Sacramento and fans -- yes, even those with Fox and Sabonis jerseys on -- stood on their feet with their phones out recording the unique individual warming up just a few feet away from them.

The Spurs big man put on a show before tip-off, but fortunately for the Kings, that show didn’t carry over when it mattered. Sacramento did a good job containing he rookie for the most part, as he struggled to get a flow going for the first three quarters.

In the loss to the Kings, Wembanyama finished with 19 points on 38 percent shooting, with 13 rebounds and four assists. He entered the game averaging 20.5 points on 46.8-percent shooting, with 10 rebounds and 3.2 assists in 49 games.

Huerter on a heater 

Huerter's inconsistent play was a growing concern this season. His name was tied to several trade rumors. His position in the starting lineup was in jeopardy.

But on Thursday, the only thing his name was tied to was Kings arena announcer Scott Moak’s microphone, shouting his name after every big bucket the sharpshooter nailed from beyond the arc.

Huerter caught fire early, and despite a sluggish start from 3-point range for the team, he held his own from deep.

Huerter finished with 21 points on 8-of-14 shooting from the field and 5 of 8 from beyond the arc, with four rebounds and five assists in 31 minutes.

At one point this season, the 25-year-old’s shooting percentages plopped to career lows. Over the last five games, he’s back to shooting 51.4 percent from the field and 40 percent from downtown. There is no doubt he was an important part of why this offense was historic last season. And nights like Thursday show promise for the young guard and his evident impact.

All-Stars without the title

In their first game back since being snubbed from the 2024 NBA All-Star Game, it was business as usual for Fox and Sabonis.

Neither Kings star seemed too bothered by missing the annual event last weekend, and Fox especially benefited from the break. He revealed Wednesday he has been dealing with a shoulder issue, but no one would have guessed it by his performance Thursday night.

The reliable scorer got hot in the second half, finishing with a team-high 28 points on 12-of-18 shooting, adding five rebounds and nine assists in 37 minutes.

Meanwhile, Sabonis was as dominant as he has been all season.

The 6-foot-10 big man recorded his 19th triple-double and 38th consecutive double-double of the season -- leading the NBA in both categories.

Sabonis finished with 22 points on 11-of-15 shooting, with 11 rebounds and 11 assists in 33 minutes.

No All-Star nod? No problem for these Kings stars as they have bigger fish to fry this season.

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