SALT LAKE CITY (AP)De’Aaron Fox made a driving layup with 0.4 seconds left and scored 22 of his 37 points in the fourth quarter to help the Sacramento Kings beat the Utah Jazz 117-115 on Tuesday night.
Utah’s Lauri Markannen made a long jumper at the final buzzer that was initially ruled good, but reversed upon replay.
Time and again, Sacramento worked Fox into situations where he could use his quickness to get to the basket or hit mid-range jumpers against sagging defenders.
”If there was a matchup that I felt like we can exploit, go to that. I mean, that’s when it gets to in the fourth quarter in a lot of NBA games. It’s real basic,” Fox said, explaining that he often changed the called plays to something he thought worked better.
Fox’s big fourth quarter included an emphatic dunk and an 18-foot pullup with 23.1 seconds remaining to put the Kings up 115-112.
”I was getting in a zone. A lot of that was just picking where I wanted to get to, and then getting there and shooting the shoots you work on every day,” said Fox, whose fourth quarter was a career best of any quarter.
Markkanen made all three free throws on a foul behind the arc, but Fox got switched onto the Finnish 7-footer and drove by him for an acrobatic layup to clinch the win.
The Kings then held their breath until Markannen’s shot was disallowed after a short review.
”I thought I had it off in time,” Markannen said. ”Right from the moment it left my hand, it felt good. … It’s tough. Obviously, everyone remembers the ending but there’s a lot of things that we did early, we fix and win this ball game.”
Markannen had 28 points, including a 15-for-15 performance from the line, and Jordan Clarkson added 24. The Jazz dropped their fifth straight game, with the five losses by a combined 17 points.
Domantas Sabonis, playing with a broken right thumb, had 21 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists to help the Kings win for the third time in four games.
”My main job was to get Fox open,” Sabonis said. ”He’s so fast and you saw it on that layup for the game winner.”
Coupled with a 126-125 victory over the Jazz last week, Sacramento has moved three games ahead of Utah in the Western Conference standings.
”We haven’t really been in this position before. We’re all learning and we’re all growing together and Fox is at the forefront of it,” Sacramento coach Mike Brown beamed.
Harrison Barnes had 19 for the Kings, and Keegan Murray and Kevin Huerter both added 16 each.
But it was Fox’s night.
”I thought he made a lot of shots over defenders in that middle area of the court, which with a player like Fox that’s what you’re trying to make him do. He’s a really talented scorer and you can’t press up too far into him or else he’s going right by you, as we saw on the last play,” Hardy said.
Kings: Sabonis made 17 straight field goals over the last two games against the Jazz until finally missing a shot in the second quarter. . Sacramento’s 18 turnovers led to 27 Utah points. . The Kings shot 53.5 percent from the field.
Jazz: Collin Sexton missed the game to manage his recurring right hamstring injury. . Clarkson reached 10,000 career points with a basket in the first quarter. . Mike Conley scored a season-high 18 points.
Kings: Host Atlanta on Wednesday night to start a five-game homestand.
Jazz: At Houston on Thursday night.
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