De’Aaron Fox already had an NBA game-winner under his belt. Now, though, the Sacramento Kings’ rookie point guard might just have the most bad-ass victory-sealer of the year to date.
After trailing the Miami Heat by 12 with just over seven minutes to go at AmericanAirlines Arena, the visiting Kings had clawed their way back to within one point, 88-87, entering the closing seconds. With a chance to win it, Dave Joerger put the ball in the hands of Bogdan Bogdanovic — an NBA rookie, but a European vet who’s been taking and making big shots in big games for years — and let him go to work. Fox sprinted up to the 3-point line to trigger the action with a screen, before popping free to the left wing. Bogdanovic went away from a second screen set by big man Willie Cauley-Stein, driving right before stopping and popping a stepback jumper with just under six seconds left on the game clock.
The off-balance shot caught the rim, then bounced up off the backboard and appeared to be going clear … until Fox, to whom Miami guard Goran Dragic had completely stopped paying attention when the shot went up, streaked in from the wing, knifed between three Heat would-be rebounders, soared up above the rim, caught the carom just as it exited the cylinder, and slammed down the offensive rebound with two hands. My dude got up:
The thunderous and extremely awesome putback tip dunk — delivered, again, by a 6-foot-3, 20-year-old point guard — gave Sacramento an 89-88 lead with 3.3 seconds left. Miami got one last look at a response, but a long 2-point try by swingman Josh Richardson came up empty, meaning the Kings had snapped a 15-game losing streak in Miami that stretched back to 2001, and that Fox’s act of final-seconds superheroism stood up as the coolest game-winner in recent memory.
The game-winning dunk capped an eventful closing kick for Fox. The No. 5 pick in the 2017 NBA draft threw a honey of a pocket pass off the pick-and-roll for a Cauley-Stein layup that cut Miami’s lead to three. He blew past Dragic and sliced between Hassan Whiteside and James Johnson for a bucket of his own. Then, with the Heat reeling and trying to nurse their lead, he picked Dragic’s pocket at half-court to set up a Buddy Hield dunk that brought Sacramento within one with 1:25 to go.
The final stat line doesn’t look particularly overwhelming — 14 points on 6-for-15 shooting, four assists, three rebounds and a steal in 29 1/2 minutes — but De’Aaron Fox did everything he could to take over this game late, knocking a very good and playoff-bound Miami team back on its heels before delivering about as stylish and memorable a coup de grace as you can ask for, leaving the Heat stunned and an awful lot of Kings fans likely sounding like color commentator Doug Christie:
— Kings on NBCS (@NBCSKings) January 26, 2018
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