For the umpteenth time in their two NBA seasons together, De'Aaron Fox and Malik Monk did the heavy lifting late in the Kings' 123-117 win over the reigning league champion Denver Nuggets on Saturday night at Golden 1 Center.
The Kentucky guard duo, for the fourth consecutive game, combined to score 50-plus points (52), and each delivered clutch buckets down the stretch to help Sacramento stave off a ferocious Denver comeback effort.
Kings center JaVale McGee, who scored eight points and blocked three shots in the first quarter, provided an early off-the-bench spark that set the tone for the rest of the game. McGee, in speaking to NBC Sports California's Kyle Draper, Morgan Ragan and Mike Bibby on "Kings Postgame Live," perfectly summed up Sacramento's collective effort.
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"Damn right, we've got some real dogs in there, and we're barely holding onto the leash," McGee said. "We're ready to be let loose. When [Kings coach Mike Brown] lets us loose, it's damage out there."
Those dogs -- at least in the case of Fox and Monk -- were let off the leash Saturday. They each scored 26 points, but Fox's career-high 16 assists stood out the most. Coincidentally, eight of those assists went to Monk, who turned them into 20 points.
The connection is strong, and Fox doesn't take that for granted.
"It's dope, man. Just being able to do it at the highest level," Fox told reporters after the game. "From playing against each other [in] middle school, high school and playing on the same team in college and then being able to come back together in the NBA and actually have success, it's fun. It's definitely fun, just being able to be around each other every day, whether it's at home or on the road. You enjoy it. You really do enjoy it."
The Kings led by as many as 17 points with 6:28 remaining in the third quarter, but they couldn't keep the Nuggets away. Denver chipped away, and trailed by one basket with 4:09 remaining in the fourth quarter until a Kevin Huerter 3-pointer sealed the Nuggets' fate and gave the Kings an eight-point lead with 18.5 seconds to go.
Monk reveled in Sacramento's big win over the defending champs, whom the Kings know they will see again later in the season or potentially in the playoffs.
"It's great," Monk told Draper, Ragan and Bibby on "Kings Postgame Live." "They're missing a great point guard [Jamal Murray], but it's always good to get those guys out of the way early because we know later in the season we're going to see them and they're going to be at their best. It's always great to get a win like this."
The Kings will enjoy a day off Sunday before facing the pesky New Orleans Pelicans in an NBA In-Season Tournament quarterfinal game Monday night at Golden 1 Center.