Kings guard De’Aaron Fox exited Friday’s win over Phoenix in the third quarter and didn’t return, even though he wanted to keep playing, writes Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. It’s unclear whether Fox, who was dealing with right hamstring soreness, will be forced to miss any additional contests, including Saturday’s against Utah.
“Until I get a quote-unquote official report, there’s always concern in situations like that,” head coach Mike Brown said after the game. “But we’ll wait and see what they say and then kind of go from there.”
While they lost Fox halfway through the game, the Kings got a boost on Friday when Kevin Huerter made his return following a three-game absence due to a leg injury. Huerter didn’t miss a beat upon rejoining the starting lineup, racking up 29 points on 10-of-18 shooting and chipping in nine rebounds and five assists in one of his best performances of the season.
“It’s great to get Kevin back on the floor,” Brown said. “His ability to create separation without the basketball is really — it’s up there with the elite guys in the league. I’ve been around some pretty good ones. He’s up there with that. Any time you have a player who is capable of that, who shoots it the way he does and draws as much attention as he does, it’s huge.”
Whether or not Fox is available on Saturday night, it has a chance to be a memorable evening in Sacramento. According to the NBA (Twitter link), the Kings would officially clinch their first playoff berth since 2006 if they win and both Phoenix and the Clippers lose.
Here’s more from around the Pacific:
- Suns forward T.J. Warren said this week that he’s “slowly but surely” finding his footing in his second go-round with Phoenix, writes Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. Warren, who was something of an afterthought in the Kevin Durant blockbuster, didn’t play more than 13 minutes in any of his first 15 games as a Sun and was a frequent DNP-CD, but has scored 21 points in 48 minutes across his last two outings. “It’s tough coming to a team that’s pretty established and trying to find a good rhythm along the way, but it’s been solid,” Warren said. “Just looking to bring some value on both ends of the floor.”
- Jordan Poole‘s production for the Warriors this season has been up and down, but Friday’s performance was a reminder of how he played in the 2022 postseason and what the team hopes to get from him this spring, per Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area. The 23-year-old had 33 points, including 19 in the fourth quarter. More importantly, he has turned it over just once in the last two games. “Just better decision making and more mindful play,” Kerr said of Poole’s play. “Understanding that the ball is everything for us.” Poole’s four-year, $123MM rookie scale extension will go into effect in 2023/24.
- While the defending champion Warriors aren’t concerned about their exact playoff seed, they’re certainly making it a priority to end up in the top six in the West so they don’t have to worry about competing in the play-in tournament, where one bad night could end their season, according to Kendra Andrews of ESPN. “That is dangerous,” Draymond Green said. “We’d much rather avoid that.” Golden State currently holds the No. 6 seed, with a 1.5-game lead on the top two play-in teams.