What we learned as Fox drops 38 in Kings' win over Warriors


SACRAMENTO -- There was no shortage of storylines heading into Game 1 of the first-round NBA playoff series between the Kings and Golden State Warriors.

It was the first postseason game in Sacramento in 6,189 days. Seventeen years. Mike Brown, the Warriors’ defensive guru for the last six seasons, matched up against his former colleague Steve Kerr. The young, up-and-coming Kings against the defending champion Warriors and their four championship rings. 

When the ball was tipped, all those storylines were erased. It was just basketball again in front of a roaring, sellout Golden 1 Center crowd hungry for a playoff win.

The Kings delivered. Behind 38 points and a memorable playoff debut for De’Aaron Fox, Sacramento defeated Golden State 126-123. The playoff beam is lit.

The series? 1-0, Sacramento. Here are three takeaways from the Kings’ electric victory over the Warriors:

Playoff Fox

What a postseason debut.

Six years after being selected with the No. 5 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, the electric guard from Kentucky led the Kings back to the postseason to the tune of a 38-point performance, a franchise record for a playoff debut.

Unsurprisingly, Fox did most of his damage in the second half. He had just nine points at halftime but scored 29 points on 10-of-18 shooting in the final two quarters to close it out.

The undisputed NBA Clutch Player of the Year did it when it mattered most all regular season. He brought it into the postseason, too, and fittingly, was the first Kings player to light the beam after the win.

Bench studs

Trey Lyles and Malik Monk deserve their flowers.

Coming off Mike Brown’s bench, Lyles and Monk kept Sacramento within reach in the first three quarters while the main unit struggled to find its shot.

A sequence late in the third quarter best represented their night. With the Kings trailing by four points, Lyles swished a triple off a pass from Fox. When Warriors guard Klay Thompson missed a 3-pointer on the other end, Monk crossed up Jordan Poole and drilled a contested layup over Andrew Wiggins. 

It gave the Kings their first lead since midway through the second. The crowd noise went from loud to unbearable once again.

Monk had a huge second quarter, giving the Kings a needed boost with 15 points on 5-of-6 shooting. He finished with 32 points, breaking a record for the most playoff points by a reserve player since Shareef Abdur-Rahim with 27.

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On a night where the Kings’ starters missed their first 15 combined 3-point attempts, Lyles kept things rolling from deep. He knocked down 6 of 8 attempts from deep and registered a massive 16 points in the win.

Playoff rotation

Earlier this week at Kings practice, Brown told reporters the Kings planned to play a nine- or 10-man rotation. Nine different players saw action in the first quarter alone, with Davion Mitchell coming off the bench first, followed by Malik Monk, Trey Lyles and backup center Alex Len. 

Monk and Lyles starred off the bench. Mitchell played his typical scrappy defense on the Warriors’ star guards. 

Len, who worked his way into the playoff rotation in the last few weeks of the regular season, received some surprise first-half minutes and made the most of them with two electric dunks and one block on Draymond Green that made the Golden 1 Center crowd erupt.

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