During the last minutes of Sacramento King’s 120-80 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers, De’Aaron Fox sat on the bench as the game’s final seconds ticked away. A large group of purple-clad fans was already celebrating the triumph.
The long wait was finally over for Fox, who the Kings selected in 2017 during the draft. For the first time since 2006, Sacramento has ensured that it will participate in the postseason.
According to Fox, “We want to do bigger things, but 16 years – that’s a long time.”
The triumph, which also gave the Kings the advantage of playing on their court, was largely contributed to by Fox, who finished with 18 points. The franchise has not appeared in the playoffs for the past 16 years, the longest active postseason drought among teams in the NBA, NFL, NHL, and Major Baseball. This drought is also the longest in NBA history.
Fox remarked that being a part of this particular team made him feel like he was “performing for a higher reason.” “And I think we have a capable team, and we know that we can continue to improve,” she continued. “And I think we have a team that is capable.”
The last time the Kings were in the postseason, Fox was eight years old.
With 6 minutes and 44 seconds remaining in the third quarter, Kings rookie Keegan Murray made his 188th 3-pointer to set a new record in the NBA. Donovan Mitchell had previously held the record with 187 3-pointers in the 2017-18 season. Murray, who finished with 13 points and a subtle grin after the shot, flashed it after the ball went in.
The game ended with Malik Monk coming off the bench to score 19 points and Kevin Huerter adding 17. The Moda Center in Portland was filled with cheering King’s supporters who sang the team’s rallying cry, “Light the Beam!”
Forward Harrison Barnes thanked the fans for their support over the years, saying they continue to come to the stadium despite experiencing heartbreak, frustration, and disappointment season after season. “For them to finally have this moment means the world to us,” you said.
The Sacramento Kings now hold the third spot in the Western Conference with a record of 46-30. The Denver Nuggets, currently in the first place, and the Memphis Grizzlies, three games behind, have already secured their playoff spots.
Sharon Sharpe, a rookie, led the Blazers in scoring with 30 points. However, the Blazers have dropped their past four games in a row and 10 of their last 11. The Blazers’ failure to win against the Kings ended their chances of making the playoffs.
Regular starters Damian Lillard (right calf), Jusuf Nurkic (right knee), Anfernee Simons (right foot), and Jerami Grant (left quad) were all sidelined with injuries for the Portland Trail Blazers, leaving the team short-handed. Keon Johnson, who had 20 points in a loss to New Orleans on Monday, broke a finger when shooting around on Wednesday, which made things a bit worse for Portland. On Monday, Portland was defeated by New Orleans. Only seven Blazers took part in the game.
This season, the Kings have posted a road record of 23-14, the third-best in the NBA. They have also avoided going on lengthy losing streaks; the Kings started the season with a four-game losing streak, which is the longest the team has ever gone on.
On the Kings finally qualifying for the postseason, head coach Mike Brown said, “our guys are excited about it.” They are ecstatic about how they performed tonight, in addition to the achievements they have obtained up to this point. They couldn’t contain their excitement for Keegan. But, in the same breath, and without wishing to minimize anything, they anticipate more.”
After the first quarter, Portland held a narrow lead, 20-19, but Sacramento quickly took control, taking a 44-32 lead on a 3-pointer made by Huerter with 3:51 remaining before halftime. By the halftime break, Portland had narrowed the lead to 50-46.
In the second half, the Kings extended their lead to as many as 40 points at one point. Domantas Sabonis ended the game with 15 points and 12 rebounds.
According to the coach of the Trail Blazers, Chauncey Billups, “the biggest difference was in the second half, they started making 3s, and they’re the type of team that does that.” They are going to play the game in the same manner. They will take a lot of three-point shots, and regardless of whether or not they are successful, they will play in that manner. We couldn’t keep up.“