Fox furious after LeBron scores 37 in Lakers’ win over Kings

Sacramento Kings guard De'Aaron Fox (5) reacts to a call in the Los Angeles Lakers' favor during the last moments of the NBA basketball game Saturday, Jan.  7, 2023, at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento.

Sacramento Kings guard De’Aaron Fox (5) reacts to a call in the Los Angeles Lakers’ favor during the last moments of the NBA basketball game Saturday, Jan. 7, 2023, at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento.

De’Aaron Fox was furious when he walked off the court following a controversial loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Fox had words with an official and threw his arm sleeve to the floor in disgust after missing a 3-pointer as time expired in a 136-134 loss to the Lakers before a sellout crowd of 17,611 at Golden 1 Center.

Fox might have felt he was fouled on the final shot. He was undoubtedly upset about the previous play after being whistled for a foul that sent Dennis Schroder to the line for the go-ahead free throws with 3.6 seconds remaining. Fox left the building without speaking to reporters, but he took to social media moments after the game.

“Thought we were supposed to let the players decide the game,” Fox said in a tweet that was later deleted.

Kings coach Mike Brown was frustrated with the officiating throughout the game, but most of his postgame remarks focused on his team’s defense. The Lakers shot 61% from the field and outscored the Kings 70-48 on points in the paint.

“We have to figure out, somehow, somehow, how to stop people,” Brown said. “Defensively, we are not good at all. … We can score, but we’re terrible defensively.”

LeBron James had 37 points, eight rebounds and seven assists for the Lakers (19-21), who have won five in a row to move into a three-way tie for 10th in the Western Conference. Thomas Bryant had 29 points and 14 rebounds. Schroder added 27 points while Russell Westbook came off the bench to produce 23 points, five rebounds and 15 assists.

Fox finished with 34 points and nine assists for the Kings (20-18), who squandered another opportunity as heavy favorites at home following recent losses to the Charlotte Hornets, Washington Wizards and Atlanta Hawks.

Domantas Sabonis had 25 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists before fouling out with 48.1 seconds remaining. Sabonis recorded his 16th consecutive double-double to break a franchise record held by DeMarcus Cousins, who had 15 in a row from Dec. 31, 2013-Jan. 21, 2014.

Harrison Barnes scored 18 points, Kevin Huerter scored 17 and Keegan Murray had 16, but Brown was not pleased with the team’s rebounding. Barnes grabbed two rebounds in 36 minutes. Murray went 6 of 8 from the field and 4 of 5 from 3-point range, but he did not come up with a single rebound in 29 minutes.

“Harrison has a load of a guy that he’s guarding in LeBron, and LeBron is out on the perimeter,” Brown said. “We have to get something from Keegan. We can’t have him out there for 30 minutes and get zero rebounds.”

Fox scored 17 points in another electric fourth quarter. He went 5 of 8 from the field and 7 of 7 at the free-throw line, giving the Kings a chance to win another late thriller.

“He stays ready,” Sabonis said. “He knows we need him in crunch time and he can get any shot he wants. He was great again tonight.”

The Lakers came in on the second night of a back-to-back after beating the Hawks 130-114 on Friday night at Arena in Los Angeles. There was some uncertainty regarding the status of James, who was listed as questionable due to left ankle soreness, but he was cleared to play along with Westbrook (foot) and Damian Jones (toe). Anthony Davis, who has been out since Dec. 17, was still sidelined with a foot injury.

The Kings were missing Malik Monk, their top reserve, who was considered questionable due to lower left leg soreness. Brown said it was his decision to rest Monk, explaining he is “a little banged up right now.”

The Lakers led by as many as nine while shooting 63.6% in the opening period. The Kings battled back to take a 38-37 lead at the end of the first quarter. Davion Mitchell provided a spark off the bench, going 3 of 3 from 3-point range for nine points in six minutes.

The Kings went up by eight on a 3-pointer by Barnes midway through the second quarter. The Lakers came back to tie the game on a 3-pointer by Westbrook.

The score was tied at 73 following a first-half shootout that featured 11 ties and nine lead changes. The Kings went up 81-75 after outscoring the Lakers 8-2 to start the third quarter, but the Lakers were able to hang around after Sabonis went to the bench with his fourth foul at the 9:34 mark.

The game was tied at 109 at the end of the third. The Lakers staged a 13-4 run to go up 122-113 in the fourth, but that’s when Fox started to take over. He converted a three-point play, went to the line for two more free throws on the next possession and then hit a pull-up jumper as part of an 11-2 run that tied the game at 124.

The Lakers went up 133-132 on a three-point play by James with 48.1 seconds remaining. The Kings committed a costly turnover on an inbound play. Then Westbrook made the second of two free throws to put the Lakers up by two.

Fox broke out a signature move for a clutch turnaround jumper in the paint to tie the game with 6.8 seconds remaining, but then he was called for a foul on Schroder at the other end of the floor. The Kings challenged the ruling, but the call was upheld, sending Schroder to the line for what proved to be the game-winning free throws.

Even Schroder was surprised by the call.

“I mean, normally, they don’t call fouls like that,” Schroder said. “I mean, I probably got so many drives where they hip-check me and I don’t normally get the foul – too many times. But they called it here.”

When asked about Fox’s tweet, Schroder went on to say: “If you foul, you foul. It’s unfortunate, because of course the game is on the line, and it’s like, for free throws to win the game, I understand that point, for sure. But, I mean, at the end of the day, you can’t foul, especially when you’re in the bonus.”

This story was originally published January 8, 2023 8:06 AM.

Jason Anderson is an award-winning sportswriter for The Sacramento Bee. He started his journalism career at The Bee more than 20 years ago and returned to cover the Sacramento Kings in September 2018.


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