Coming into the season, the Kings' second unit was supposed to be one of their strong suits. With players moving in and out of the starting unit, it's taken longer than expected to gel, but in the win over the Atlanta Hawks, the second unit was a big reason why Sacramento came out victorious.
The trio of Bogdan Bogdanovic, Trevor Ariza and Cory Joseph came to play, especially in the deciding fourth quarter. Atlanta made a run, cutting the Kings' lead down to one point at 94-93. Coach Luke Walton stayed with the second unit and they responded with a huge run to put the Hawks away.
Despite posting big numbers early, Walton left his starting backcourt of Fox and Buddy Hield on the bench for the final period and allowed the veteran crew to finish off the game. Hield was vocal coming off the court in the third and could be seen having an animated conversation with Walton on the sidelines.
Sometimes you have to ride the hot hand, and that is exactly what Walton did in the fourth quarter.
"Good contributions from first unit guys, from second unit guys, and that's why we're always preaching team," coach Luke Walton told reporters following the game. "It doesn't matter who starts, who finishes. It matters who's out there playing well."
Trae Young started to get rolling in the third quarter, scoring 16 of his game-high 30 points while dishing out four assists. Walton threw Joseph at Young to start the fourth and gummed up Atlanta's attack.
Between Bogdanovic and Joseph, the Kings slowed down the tempo of the game and the Hawks were slow to make adjustments.
On the offensive end, Bogdanovic hit big shots and Joseph found cracks in the Hawks' defense to exploit. Ariza stepped up his game late as well, scoring nine of his 14 points in the fourth on a perfect 3-of-3 from behind the 3-point line.
"We really moved the ball well, the second unit especially," Bogdanovic told NBC Sports California's Grant Napear and Doug Christie during a postgame interview. "You just have to be ready to play."
Bogdanovic finished with 20 points on 5-of-6 shooting from behind the arc. His 3-pointer to finish off the third quarter helped give the Kings momentum heading to the fourth and his 11 points in the final frame put the game out of reach.
This was Bogdanovic's second straight strong showing after a slow start to the season. Over his last two games, he's averaging 21 points per game and has hit 11-of-17 from behind the arc.
"Confidence was always there, it's just the rhythm a little bit and that's what it's all about," Bogdanovic said. "My teammates keep finding me and I was just patient. It was me today."
In addition to the trio of veterans, second-year big man Harry Giles made an impact early for Sacramento in his first game of the 2019-20 season.
"It was nice to get Harry back and Trevor, Cory, Bogi - some of those bench guys, had really big games for us tonight," Walton said.
Giles entered the game in the second quarter and instantly made an impact on the defensive end with a big shot block. He took a few minutes to get comfortable on the offensive end, but he knocked down a nice 22-foot jumper from the right elbow and scored another two points at the line during his seven minutes of play.
"His energy, his toughness, his passing ability really showed in those minutes," Walton said. "But I also thought our other bigs had great moments. I thought Richaun [Holmes] finished the game like a winner. He was out there shocking the ball and running back and rebounding."
Walton turned back to Giles in the fourth, but with the game on the line and Giles new to the rotation, he turned back to Holmes quickly to finish out the game. While Holmes finished with just two points on the night, he chipped in nine rebounds and was effective on the defensive end.
[RELATED: What Giles' return means for Kings]
The Kings are a work in progress, but they finished their three-game road trip with a 2-1 record and their loss to the Raptors was by a final of 124-120. They are clearly growing as a unit and starting to find more chemistry.
"I feel like we still have a lot of things to work on, but I feel like a lot of things are starting to click," Fox added.
After a busy first week, the schedule has been kind to the Kings as of late. They flew home to Sacramento after the win in Atlanta, but they won't play again until Tuesday when the Portland Trail Blazers roll into town.
The Kings have another two-day break after the Blazers game before making a short hop to Los Angeles to take on the Lakers next Friday. It's a light week that should allow for more practice time to work out the kinks.