Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (Piston) scored 26 to key a 121-114 win over the Sacramento Kings on Sunday night. The Lakers ended the game on an 18-4 run after trailing late, with Brandon Ingram (21 points and nine assists) making big shots down the stretch.
Josh Hart also added 22 points, allowing the Lakers (21-16) to avenge their one-point loss to the Kings three days earlier.
James missed his third straight game with a groin strain ( https://ak-static.cms.nba.com/referee/injury/Injury-Report_2018-12-29_05PM.pdf ) , but it was the first time in 14 games dating back to 2016 that his team won without him, per Micah Adams ( https://twitter.com/MicahAdams13/status/1078894505489850368 ) of NBA ( http://bleacherreport.com/nba ) .com.
The Kings fell to 19-17 on the season despite 26 points from De’Aaron Fox.
De’Aaron Fox Deserves Spot on All-Star Roster
The Western Conference is loaded with the best basketball players in the world, but Fox deserves a spot among those players in the All-Star Game based on the way he has played to this point.
No one expected the Kings to be in the playoff hunt this late into the season after going 12 straight years without a winning record, but they have kept pace heading into 2019 thanks mostly to the play of their point guard.
Even while seemingly dealing with shoulder problems and foul trouble, Fox still had a good night with 26 points, seven assists, four rebounds and three steals. The Kings were even while he was on the court despite the seven-point loss.
He once again showed a knack for producing highlight plays in many phases of the game:
> Sacramento Kings @SacramentoKingsSwipaVision™️ https://t.co/67X8RFEGNv
> Sacramento Kings @SacramentoKings🦊
> Sacramento Kings @SacramentoKingsA 🦊 always stays ready… https://t.co/iGnQiD8qHb
Perhaps just as important for him, he outdueled Lonzo Ball, a personal rival since they were both top recruits in high school.
Fox has been playing at this level all year long, entering the day averaging 18.0 points, 7.7 assists and 1.7 steals per game. The only players to match these numbers so far this season are James Harden ( https://twitter.com/SacramentoKings/status/1079581321196752896 ) , Russell Westbrook ( http://bleacherreport.com/russell-westbrook ) and Jrue Holiday, per Basketball Reference ( https://www.basketball-reference.com/play-index/psl_finder.cgi?request=1&match=single&type=per_game&per_minute_base=36&per_poss_base=100&season_start=1&season_end=-1&lg_id=NBA&age_min=0&age_max=99&is_playoffs=N&height_min=0&height_max=99&year_min=2019&year_max=2019&birth_country_is=Y&as_comp=gt&as_val=0&pos_is_g=Y&pos_is_gf=Y&pos_is_f=Y&pos_is_fg=Y&pos_is_fc=Y&pos_is_c=Y&pos_is_cf=Y&c1stat=pts_per_g&c1comp=gt&c1val=18&c2stat=ast_per_g&c2comp=gt&c2val=7.7&c3stat=stl_per_g&c3comp=gt&c3val=1.6&order_by=ws ) .
He has also taken his game to another level as of late. Taking away his six-minute game against the Timberwolves earlier this month, he averaged 21.3 points, 8.9 rebounds and 2.5 steals over his last 11 games.
The 21-year-old remains a threat every night as someone who can carry the offense with his scoring or keep the offense flowing with his passing while also playing shutdown defense on the perimeter.
> Jason Jones @mr_jasonjonesDe’Aaron Fox’s speed shows up in so many ways on both ends. How he snuck in for that last steal and score was ridiculous
While Buddy Hield has played well this season and just about everyone on the roster has exceeded expectations, Fox is the most valuable player on this team and one of the best on the floor every night.
DeMarcus Cousins ( https://twitter.com/mr_jasonjones/status/1079580106647990274 ) has been the only Kings All-Star in the last 10 years, and that was because he put up numbers no one could ignore. While Fox doesn’t have this type of production on paper, he has helped his team win and is playing at an All-Star level.
If he can keep this up, he should be in Charlotte next February.
The Lakers will continue their homestand Wednesday with a matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Kings will play on New Year’s Day while hosting the Portland Trail Blazers.
This article will be updated to provide more information soon.
via Bleacher Report – NBA http://bit.ly/2gMI6gF