De’Aaron Fox didn’t display any rust but he could tell he wasn’t operating at full throttle.
The speedy Sacramento point guard hopes his stamina can increase to another level when the Kings visit the Indiana Pacers on Friday night in Indianapolis.
Fox missed 17 games with a sprained left ankle before making his return during Tuesday’s 110-102 road loss to the Charlotte Hornets.
It was a solid return for Fox, who had 19 points and eight assists in 30 minutes off the bench.
But Fox could tell there was something missing.
“It was different,” Fox said after the contest. “You can do all of the conditioning that you want, it’s not the same as playing basketball.”
Sacramento coach Luke Walton was happy with Tuesday’s results. Having his floor leader back on the court was a welcome sight.
“I thought he looked good and was moving well, created some good looks and opportunities for us and we will continue to get better and learn from this game,” Walton said after the contest.
Fox, who turns 22 on Friday, will look to help the Kings snap a three-game slide against the Pacers in Indianapolis.
The Pacers are playing well with four straight victories and 12 in their past 15 games after producing a stellar 105-102 home win over the red-hot Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday.
Guard Malcolm Brogdon downplayed the accomplishment afterward, partially to send the message that following up with a loss would take away from the solid triumph.
“It’s a great win for us — I wouldn’t call it special,” Brogdon told reporters. “They have to lace their sneakers up just like us. This is basketball, anybody can be beat. It’s a really good win for us, now we’re looking to our next game on Friday.”
Indiana coach Nate McMillan was pleased with the performance and was impressed with the way his team dealt with the pressure.
“When you’re playing in games like this, against the elite teams, you’ve got to be calm, you’ve got to be clear, and you’ve got to be connected,” McMillan said afterward. “You can’t be emotionally drunk out there. I thought we showed calmness, being down five, not panicking and starting to go off on our own. We were clear about what we needed to do as far as getting stops and how we wanted to attack them, and I thought we were connected on both ends of the floor.”
Pacers power forward Domantas Sabonis continued his stellar play with 26 points and 10 rebounds for his 13th consecutive double-double. Sabonis was 10-of-15 shooting while posting his seventh 20-point effort of the campaign.
Sabonis was impressed with his team’s resolve.
“We knew when we threw a punch, they would punch back,” Sabonis said. “We just stuck together.”
The Kings will try to neutralize Sabonis with the combo of Richaun Holmes and Marvin Bagley III.
Holmes began receiving extended playing time after Bagley fractured his right thumb in the season opener. He has been a surprise with eight double-doubles.
Bagley had 14 points and seven rebounds in the loss to the Hornets and is averaging 13 points and 6.5 rebounds in four games since returning from his injury.
“I feel great,” Bagley told reporters. “I feel like how I was before I got hurt conditioning-wise. Just have to keep going and keep pushing.”
Shooting guard Buddy Hield scored 14 points against Charlotte to fail to reach 20 for the second straight game after hitting the mark in each of the previous 10 contests.
Indiana small forward T.J. Warren (illness) and shooting guard Jeremy Lamb (groin) are both questionable for Friday’s game.
–Field Level Media