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Are They For Real? Kings Face T-Wolves As Difficult Stretch Begins

(Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

by Franklin Cartoscelli – Sports 1140 KHTK

If it wasn’t poor performance on the court, it was off the court drama.

Player-coach feuds, relocation sagas, several sub-30 win seasons. The Sacramento Kings have again and again been the “little brother” of the NBA.

It has been almost 13 years since Kings fans crammed into Arco Arena for a first round series with the San Antonio Spurs.

The city of Sacramento has not seen a playoff game since.

A few teams have had potential since 2006, but the closest Sacramento has been to a playoff spot was in 2015-16 when they finished 33-49, eight games behind the eighth and final playoff spot.

After years of building and tearing down, Sacramento has come to a fork in the road.

Sacramento enters play on Wednesday sitting at 14-12, their best start since 2004.

As each game goes by, the optimism rises. This isn’t a small sample size of games anymore. The season is 30 percent completed, and these young Kings are showing the world that they are ready to take that next step: becoming a playoff contender.

In order to take that next step, three important factors loom large:

  1. Win on the road (8-7 this season)
  2. Beat sub .500 teams (9-4 this season)
  3. Compete with the best (5-8 vs teams .500 and above)

Check and check.

But as for competing with the best?

Over the next three weeks, the Kings will have their biggest test of the season (or even possibly since 2006) as they face nine teams at or above the .500 mark, including eight games against playoff teams from last season.

And after a 3-1 road trip, it looks as if these Kings are up for the challenge.

Monday night, Sacramento battled back from a 12-point third quarter deficit to beat the Chicago Bulls 108-89, holding the Bulls to just 33 second half points.

The Kings claimed their eighth road win of the season, placing them in a tie for third most in the league.

De’Aaron Fox went on a tear in the second half on Monday, scoring 15 points in the third quarter alone to help bring the Kings back from the 12-point deficit.

Fox finished with 25 points, 4 rebounds, and 6 assists to guide Sacramento to their fourth win in five games.

The second year guard continues to improve his shooting, as he upped his field goal percentage to 47% on the season.

Fox has been phenomenal from beyond the three-point stripe, shooting 41% from deep. This places Fox with teammates Buddy Hield and Nemanja Bjelica in the league’s top 30 in three-point shooting percentage.

Big Bad Wolves?

A pivotal stretch that could determine the legitimacy of this Kings team will begin on Wednesday night.

Karl-Anthony Towns and the Minnesota Timberwolves return to Golden 1 Center, where the Kings handed them a 121-110 defeat on November 9th.

Towns, who has career averages of 23.3 points and 11.8 rebounds against Sacramento, scored 39 points and grabbed 19 rebounds last time these two teams faced off.

It will be very important for Towns’ former Kentucky Wildcat teammate Willie Cauley-Stein to stay out of foul trouble, as he played a majority of the second half with five fouls on November 9th.

Minnesota comes into town riding a two-game losing streak and sitting at 13-14 on the season.

The T-Wolves have won three out of the last four contests against Sacramento.

Catch all the action right here on Sports 1140 KHTK, starting with pregame coverage at 6:30pm.

As a parting gift, enjoy this Fox dunk. Just for fun.