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Kings' comeback win vs. Nuggets sends resounding message before break

Kings' comeback win vs. Nuggets sends resounding message before break originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

The Kings' 102-98 comeback win over the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday at Ball Arena sent a loud message to the NBA -- but more importantly themselves -- that this Sacramento team can go toe-to-toe with anyone.

On the second night of a back-to-back and coming off a tough loss in Phoenix on Tuesday night, the Kings faced a 16-point second-half deficit on the road against the defending NBA champions.

With a little over a quarter of basketball left to play before the NBA All-Star break, it would have been understandable if Sacramento mailed it in before the highly coveted midseason hiatus -- but that's not in the DNA of this Kings team.

Instead, Sacramento rallied back with a valiant effort, shaking off a rough first half where they shot 3-for-15 from the 3-point line, surging back with a 25-12 run to close the third quarter and cut the Denver lead to just three points heading into the game's final frame.

De'Aaron Fox shined when the lights were at their brightest, recording 15 fourth-quarter points to ice the win for Sacramento in front of a stunned home crowd in Denver.

After the game, Fox detailed the importance of a win like this in a tightly packed Western Conference playoff picture.

"It's definitely big to be able to get a win like this," Fox told reporters. "At this point, rest of the season, especially in the West, everybody's fighting for seeding. Trying to get out of the Play-In [Tournament], doing whatever you possibly can to move up in seed.

"Every game really, really, really matters, and especially when you're playing so many Western Conference teams where you can make up a full-game gap. That's definitely big for us."

Wednesday's thrilling comeback win put the Kings (31-23) 1.5 games back of the New Orleans Pelicans (33-22) for the No. 6 seed in the West-- the cutoff point for teams to avoid the Play -In Tournament.

Coach Mike Brown echoed Fox's words about the importance of how crucial every game is down the stretch.

"It's big because I told our guys, we've talked about it, we know our destiny is still in our hands and at the end of the day we have to go get it," Brown told reporters after Wednesday's win. "When you have less than 30 games in the season … it starts to get tight and every game matters."

Brown then explained that the Kings resiliency in their comeback victory over the Nuggets highlighted the team's ability to win in different ways, inspiring a belief that they don't have to rely solely on their high-octane offense to win big games as the playoffs inch closer.

"For us, after dropping a tough one last night, dropping the game before that, to come here on the back-to-back and find a way before going into the [All-Star] break, and to find a way to win ugly, it adds to the belief that we don't have to be this offensive juggernaut to go win games," Brown explained.

"We can win games in a lot of different ways and tonight was a testament of it. Hopefully, that belief will carry over and help us win some games against some tough teams we have coming up."

The Kings were staring directly in the face of a third consecutive loss without a chance to get back into the win column for an entire week.

Instead, Sacramento refused to break eye contact with the extreme adversity being presented to deliver one of its signature wins of the season and send the team into the All-Star break on a high note.

The Kings now boast a 3-0 record against the Nuggets during the 2023-24 NBA season, with their regular-season dominance over the defending champs offering a comforting reminder that they have the goods to match up with anybody.