Sacramento Kings at Phoenix Suns
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Footprint Center
TV: NBC Sports California
Radio: Sports 1140 KHTK
Odds: Suns -8
Morning injury report
Kings: OUT — Louis King (G League); Neemias Queta (G League); Jahmi’us Ramsey (G League); Robert Woodard II (G League).
Suns: OUT — Cameron Payne (hamstring); Dario Saric (ACL).
‘Lead by example’
Phoenix Suns star Chris Paul befriended Davion Mitchell when the Kings rookie signed with CAA sports management agency after winning a national championship at Baylor. Paul soon discovered their agent wasn’t all they had in common.
Mitchell and Paul will face off for the first time when the Kings (1-2) visit the Suns (1-2) on Wednesday at Footprint Center, but they’ve already spent hours talking about basketball, film study, NBA life and leadership.
“I think for me, just talking to him, him giving me advice, him telling me that, ‘Yeah, you’re a rookie, but you can be a leader in your own way,’” Mitchell said. “He kind of told me that, too, ‘You’re not going to go in and be the most vocal guy, but you can lead by example.’”
Mitchell is doing that with his defense. He has only played three NBA games, but he is quickly establishing a reputation as one of the best on-ball defenders in the league. Mitchell has already held his own against the likes of Damian Lillard, Donovan Mitchell, Jordan Clarkson and Stephen Curry. The gauntlet continues with Paul and his All-Star teammate, Devin Booker.
“(Paul is) one of the best point guards who ever played the game, so I’m excited to play against him and compete with him,” Davion Mitchell said. “He still has everything he (always) had, like he didn’t age, so I’m excited to go up against him.”
Fox’s early struggles
Kings point guard De’Aaron Fox shot just 38.6% from the field and 15.8% from 3-point range over the first three games. The Kings need him to play better and they believe he will.
Fox admits “I Just haven’t played well,” but it’s probably only a matter of time before he improves his efficiency.
“No matter what happens, you still come in here, you work and you let the work show,” Fox said. “Everybody goes through those things and, at the beginning of the season for me right now, that’s just what it is, but I’m continuing to go out there and play, continue to defend. I’m out there starting on a lot of teams’ better perimeter players, so there are other things I can do to affect the game.”
Fox is averaging 18.7 points, 4.3 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 1.7 steals. He had five steals in a 110-101 loss to the Utah Jazz.
Suns coach Monty Williams shared his thoughts on the Kings during his pregame news conference, specifically mentioning Fox, Mitchell, Harrison Barnes, Buddy Hield, Tyrese Haliburton, Richaun Holmes and Tristan Thompson.
“Harrison, he’s scoring at an elite level right now and doing it in transition, which is something that’s different,” Williams said. “It used to just be Fox. Now it’s Harrison and Hield and Haliburton. You can go down the list of really good players that they have.
“Mitchell has been able to come in, and not many rookies at that position come in and try to change the game defensively. That’s different. … And then Richaun and Tristan. Those guys are physical, play-around-the-basket, extra-possession guys, which you have to take account for, or just handle those guys every possession, because they don’t stop.”
Kings win at the buzzer
The Kings opened their four-game road trip with a wild 110-107 victory over the Suns after Barnes buried a game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Barnes took an inbound pass from Fox with 1.4 seconds remaining, turned and launched over the outstretched arm of Booker.
“Man, it felt good,” Barnes said. “All my 3s tonight felt good. Not many of them dropped, but I was glad that last one did.”
Hield came off the bench to post 26 points, five rebounds, two steals and two blocked shots for the Kings (2-2). He made 7 of 11 from 3-point range.
Barnes had 22 points, nine rebounds and four assists, going 10 of 18 from the field and 2 of 6 from beyond the arc. Fox continued to struggle with his shot, going 7 of 20 from the field and 1 of 5 from 3-point range, but he finished with 18 points and nine assists while committing only two turnovers in 37 minutes.
Booker scored 31 points for the Suns (1-3), but he went 12 of 28 from the field. Deandre Ayton had 21 points and 21 rebounds. Paul was held to six points on 1-of-10 shooting.
The Kings will visit the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday, the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday and the Utah Jazz on Tuesday before returning to Sacramento face the Pelicans again on Nov. 3.
Note: Check back for updates with the latest news, notes, quotes and injury updates before, during and after tonight’s game between the Kings and Suns.
This story was originally published October 27, 2021 4:00 AM.