Hali in elite group with career-high 17 assists in Kings' win


Tyrese Haliburton's shots weren't falling Saturday night, but his dimes were finding the right spot just about every time.

The second-year pro finished with a career-high 17 assists in the Kings' 113-103 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder at Golden 1 Center. His previous career high was 13 against the LA Clippers on Dec. 22.

Haliburton is the first Kings player with at least 17 assists in a game since Rajon Rondo on March 2, 2016.

Since the 2007-08 season, Haliburton now is one of four players 21 years old or younger with at least 17 assists in a game.

Haliburton now is one of five players with at least 17 assists this season.

Haliburton finished with 13 points on 5-of-13 shooting from the field and 0-of-2 from deep, but his aggressiveness as a distributor was appreciated.

"Ty did a good job of getting downhill and finding open players," Kings interim coach Alvin Gentry told reporters after the game.

Despite the career high in assists, his 14th double-double of the season and the win, Haliburton wasn't pleased with his performance and credited his teammates for padding his stat line.

"I think there are a lot of different facets," Haliburton told reporters after the game. "Just being more aggressive, 13 field goal attempts, I still think I need to get that up more. But facilitating is second nature for me. That's who I am as a person and player. I just got to take care of the ball a little bit better. I missed a couple reads throughout the game that I'll see on film. Overall I thought I was sharing the ball well and getting guys involves. Guys were making shots and made me look good."

With De'Aaron Fox out of the lineup for the last eight games due to left ankle soreness, Haliburton's production has ticked up. Before Fox's injury, Haliburton was averaging 13.7 points on 11 field goal attempts per game. In the eight games without Fox, Haliburton is averaging 17 points on 13.9 shots. His assists per game also have gone up.

Haliburton and rookie Davion Mitchell have been starting in the backcourt while Fox recovers and both players have found success. A week ago, Haliburton poured in a career-high 38 points in the Kings' loss to the Philadelphia 76ers. Mitchell scored a career-high 26 points and tied a career high with eight assists in a loss to the Warriors on Thursday night.

But Gentry believes the Kings need Fox to reach their goals.

"It'd be ridiculous to think we're a better team without Foxy," Gentry said. "He is who we are and the pace that he pushes and things like that. But he's out and what we've tried to do is figure out how we can play those two together where they're the most effective. They've done a good job of playing together. They've done a good job of running the team when the other one is out. If there's any plus to the season right now, I would say that their play has been a big plus for us."

RELATED: Knicks reportedly eyeing trade for Fox

Whether or not the Kings are better without Fox is in the eye of the beholder. They are 2-6 over the last eight games. But without him in the lineup the last two weeks, Sacramento's last two first-round draft picks have had some of the best games of their young careers.

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