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Kings spoil Russell Westbrook's debut with Clippers in offensive thriller

Sacramento's 176-175 victory over LA in double overtime marks the 2nd-highest scoring game in NBA history.

Malik Monk and De'Aaron Fox combine for 87 points in Sacramento's 176-175 victory over LA in double overtime.

LOS ANGELES – Two Sacramento Kings players sat at the interview table before letting out a collective groan.

After all, De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk had just spent nearly three hours on the court, including two extra periods, where they combined for a jaw-dropping 87 points to help secure a 176-175 double-overtime victory Friday against the LA Clippers at Arena.

The fatigue caught up to them on the second night of a back-to-back. That explains the duo’s initial response on whether they had fun playing in the second-highest-scoring game in NBA history.

“Hell no!” Fox said.

The reason?

“We didn’t get no stops,” Monk said.

Fortunately for them, neither did the Clippers. Monk led all scorers with 45 points while Fox, the newly-minted All-Star, finished the victory with 42. The Kings shot remarkably efficient from the field (65-for-111) and from 3-point range (18-for-41). The Clippers shot even better overall (59-for-98) and from deep (26-for-45) as forward Kawhi Leonard went off for 44 points. The teams combined to make the most 3s in an NBA game (44).

No two NBA teams had scored at such a prolific rate since the Detroit Pistons edged the Denver Nuggets 186-184 in triple overtime on Dec. 13, 1983. But with the modern game consisting of quick scoring outbursts, a high volume of 3s and fast-paced offense, does it seem inevitable NBA teams will soon score at this rate on a more regular basis?

“I hope not. I already take a baby aspirin daily,” Kings coach Mike Brown joked. “I hope not, or else I’ll have to take two baby aspirins.”

That’s because Brown has mostly preached defense during coaching stops with the Cleveland Cavaliers (2005-10, 2013-14), Los Angeles Lakers (2011-12) and now the Kings (2022-present). As an assistant coach with Golden State (2016-2022), Brown helped the Warriors win three of their four NBA titles in the past eight years partly because of their top-ranked defense. Incidentally, the Kings are on pace to make their first NBA playoff appearance since 2006 despite ranking 24th this season in defensive efficiency.

Despite all that, Brown considered the Kings’ latest win to be “the biggest regular-season game I’ve been a part of” during his NBA coaching tenure for two reasons. Not only for its historical significance, but for its impact on the tightly-contested Western Conference standings. The Kings (34-25) created a 2-game cushion over the Phoenix Suns (33-28) and a 2-1/2 game edge over the Clippers (33-29) for third place in the West with 23 regular-season games remaining. Sacramento did so by overcoming a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter and six-point holes in both overtime periods.

“I wish I could watch this a little bit as a fan. There was some unbelievable shotmaking,” Brown said. “Kudos to the players. That’s why in my opinion, our game is the greatest game on Earth.”

The Clippers held a 145-131 lead with 4:25 left in the fourth quarter only for the Kings to force overtime with a 22-8 run. Ironically, the Kings’ comeback partly stemmed from a rare stretch of defense. Sacramento forced four turnovers within a 42-second span, leading to three Fox layups and a Keegan Murray dunk that cut the Clippers’ lead to 147-144 with 1:58 remaining in regulation. After Monk made a 3 to tie the game with two seconds left, Leonard missed a potential game-winning 3 at the buzzer.

More drama awaited. With the Clippers nursing a 162-156 cushion midway through the first overtime period, the Kings ripped off six unanswered points in 74 seconds. After both teams traded a pair of foul shots, George missed a potential game-winning 3.

In the second overtime, the Kings overcame yet another six-point deficit. Trailing 175-169, they closed out the game with seven unanswered points, including Fox’s 19-foot jumper to put Sacramento up for good with 36.1 seconds remaining.

“There was defense being played,” Fox said. “There were just some tough shots being made.”

The night began centered on Russell Westbrook making his debut with the Clippers. The former Kia NBA MVP was dealt to the Utah Jazz from the Los Angeles Lakers at the trade deadline and signed with the Clippers after clearing waivers.

Westbrook was greeted warmly during pregame introductions. After playing as a reserve with the Lakers all season, Westbrook started in his first game with the Clippers. He finished with 17 points on 7-for-13 shooting along with 14 assists, seven turnovers and five rebounds in 39 minutes.

“It’s about what I imagined and the reason why I was high on Russ being a part of this team,” said George, who also played with Westbrook in Oklahoma City (2017-19).

Westbrook committed one of the four turnovers the Kings forced during their fourth-quarter comeback. Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said he played Westbrook in crunchtime because of his playmaking skills and familiarity with George. Yet Lue lamented playing reserve guard Terrance Mann only 18 minutes off the bench.

“I thought he was great,” Lue said of Westbrook. “Still learning the offense, still learning where guys like the basketball, running the plays and things like that. I thought he did a really good job.”

Not enough, though, to overcome the Kings’ prolific scoring.

“There were a lot of tough shots going in,” Monk said. “That’s a testament to the talent in the league and also the pace we’re playing at.”

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Mark Medina is a senior writer/analyst for You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

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