NEW ORLEANS — De'Aaron Fox scored 38 points, including 17 straight Sacramento points during the final 7:07, and the Kings rallied from 10 down in the fourth quarter to beat the New Orleans Pelicans 118-109 on Monday night.
“Just trying to do whatever it takes to put us on top and sometimes it’s hitting another gear in the fourth (quarter)," Fox said. “When it’s time to make plays, you’ve got to be ready.”
Harrison Barnes scored 24 points and Richaun Holmes had 17 points, 10 rebounds and six blocks for the Kings, who won for the fourth time in five games.
New Orleans led 97-87 after rookie guard Kira Lewis stole the ball from Barnes and set up Nickeil Alexander-Walker's transition 3-pointer. But the Kings responded with a 16-3 run that began with 3s by Barnes and 2016 Pelicans first-round draft choice Buddy Hield. Fox capped the surge with a 3 that gave Sacramento a 101-100 lead and then finished off New Orleans with another 14 points.
Kings coach Luke Walton said his club wants Fox to “take over the game” late, adding, “It makes the coaching job a lot easier on the sideline when he’s doing that down the stretch. ... It gives the guys so much confidence.”
Fox wound up outscoring New Orleans by himself in the fourth quarter, 17-15, highlighting his outburst with ball fakes and a spin on penetrating drives that left defenders flat-footed before he finished fluidly near the rim.
“That’s just being in the gym, being creative," Fox said. "I got stronger, which allows me to do some things and finish through contact.”
But Fox noted that his late scoring only mattered because of the Kings' fourth-quarter defence . Holmes played a role in that, blocking shots by Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart during the pivotal final period.
Ingram scored 20. Hart and Zion Williamson each scored 17, and Hart also grabbed 13 rebounds for the Pelicans, who lost their second straight at home and fell for the 10th time in 13 games.
“No matter who we put out there, we’re trying to win and right now it’s not working," Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy said. "It’s frustrating to everybody. Frustrating to fans, frustrating to our players, frustrating to everybody in our organization, and probably most frustrating to me because it’s my responsibility, ultimately, and I’m not figuring out a way to get it done. But we’re going to keep working at it.”
Willy Hernangomez, who had appeared in three of New Orleans' previous 18 games with a total of 12 minutes on the court, played a season-high 28 minutes because of Steven Adams' calf injury. The first-year Pelican reserve centre made the most of it, scoring 13 points and grabbing 11 rebounds.
The Kings had to play most of the second half without Marvin Bagley, who received his second technical foul of the game with 10:18 left in the third quarter while gesticulating angrily after being called for a foul on Williamson. Bagley had 10 points before his ejection.
Kings: Hield finished with 16 points but missed 11 of 15 3-point shots. ... Tyrese Haliburton grabbed 11 rebounds. ... Sacramento reserves combined to score just 13 points. ... The Kings turned the ball over 20 times, leading to 25 Pelicans points. ... Holmes' six blocks matched a career high done twice before within the past month.
Pelicans: Eric Bledsoe scored 14 points and Ball 12. ... Adams, who is day to day with a left calf injury that occurred Saturday, was late scratch shortly before tipoff. Jaxson Hayes started in his place with Hernangomez the first centre off the bench. ... Hayes committed his third foul in the middle of the second quarter and was subbed out for the remainder of the half, which meant more playing time for Hernangomez. ... Lewis, New Orleans' first-round pick out of Alabama, played 15:37 and finished with two points to go with one assist, one rebound and one steal.
Whan asked about Bagley's ejection, Walton said he "didn’t think Marvin deserved to be tossed.”
James Capers, the officials’ crew chief, said Bagley had an “overt reaction that went beyond the heat of the moment” when he received his second technical foul. Bagley's first, Capers said, stemmed from “a profanity-laced statement directed towards the official.”
Kings: Host Boston on Wednesday night in the first of two consecutive home games.
Pelicans: Host Phoenix on on Wednesday night in the last of five straight home games.
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Brett Martel, The Associated Press