De'Aaron Fox
De'Aaron Fox #5 of the Sacramento Kings drives to the basket for a layup against the Houston Rockets during the first quarter at Golden 1 Center on January 14, 2022 in Sacramento, California. Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images


  • De'Aaron Fox being sidelined gave other Kings players to step up
  • Kevin Huerter was the Kings' best player with a game-high 25 points with six triples
  • The Kings now sit half a game behind the Memphis Grizzlies for second in the West

The Sacramento Kings have been the biggest surprise for most NBA fans this season as they made their ascent to the upper echelons of the Western Conference, and their big win over the New Orleans Pelicans is a testament to how far they have come.

Kings guard De'Aaron Fox was sidelined for precautionary reasons due to a left hamstring issue, and it was up to the duo of Matthew Dellavedova and sophomore star Davion Mitchell to shoulder point guard responsibilities.

Their offense was the flavor of the night for both squads as they sought to assert their dominance over the other, but it was the Pelicans who took the lead in the first quarter.

By the second half, the game was tied at 59 apiece thanks to the combined efforts of Mitchell, Kevin Huerter, Harrison Barnes, Domantas Sabonis and backup center Chimezie Metu.

The third quarter was where the Kings found their rhythm as they hammered away at the Pelicans' defense with crisp passes around the court, confusing New Orleans while finding easy attempts either at the basket or from beyond the arc.

With an 18-point lead in their pocket, the Kings would shut the door on the Pelicans in the fourth and went on to win 123-108 despite not having Fox.

Outside of Sabonis and Fox, the Kings' biggest strength is their willingness to share the ball as evidenced by their 39 assists–10 more than the Pelicans.

Sabonis led Sacramento in assists with 11 and the sharpshooting Huerter pitched in with eight of his own, and the latter's performance showed how good the Kings truly are.

Logging a game-high plus-minus of 27, Huerter led both teams in scoring (25 points) and three-point shooting (6-of-10) which helped open up the offense for the Kings.

It certainly did not hurt them that they got big contributions from Trey Lyles who added 14 points, five rebounds, and four assists in just 17 minutes of playing time.

"We have a target on our back. We are the hunted right now. I'm not sure where we sit as a team because this is the first time we've gone through this–being the hunted," head coach Mike Brown said after the game.

The Kings have a record of 3-4 without Fox this season and games such as this will only help their other pieces get into better shape come the postseason.

While one would discredit the Kings for beating a Pelicans team that is without the services of Jose Alvarado, Josh Richardson, Larry Nance Jr. and Zion Williamson, beating New Orleans with ease is proof of their readiness to make noise in the postseason.

The win puts the once-discredited Kings just half a game behind the Memphis Grizzlies for the second seed and is 7.5 games ahead of the Pelicans who now sit in a virtual tie with the Los Angeles Lakers for 11th.

The Kings have not seen postseason action since the 2006 playoffs, and with them being on the cusp of breaking the 17-year streak this time around, Sabonis and crew is a dangerous group that should not be underestimated by any Western Conference contender.

Domantas Sabonis
#10 Domantas Sabonis of the Sacramento Kings. Sacramento Kings/YouTube Screenshot