Fox nets 26, Kings hold off short-handed Celtics 116-111

SACRAMENTO, California (AP) — De’Aaron Fox had 26 points and 11 assists, Buddy Hield made two free throws with six-tenths of a second remaining and the Sacramento Kings held off the short-handed Boston Celtics 116-111 on Wednesday night.

Hield finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds, Harrison Barnes scored 24 points and Tyrese Haliburton added 21.

“We found a way to grind that one out,” Kings coach Luke Walton said. “The first half it was kind of survival mode. We couldn’t make any open shots, we were missing layups, we weren’t attacking. Our guys found a way. Not the prettiest of wins, but what a gutsy performance by our guys.”

The Kings offence was uneven much of the night. Sacramento was also outrebounded and outscored in the paint, yet came up with several big stops in the second half. The Kings also limited the Celtics to two buckets over the final 2:26 after Jayson Tatum’s tying three-pointer.

“Defensively, that has to be our hallmark,” Barnes said. “When we don’t, it gets ugly. Shout out to our bigs for protecting the paint. There were a lot of pick-and-rolls tonight and our guards were being active.”

Sacramento Kings centre Richaun Holmes (L) is fouled by Boston Celtics centre Daniel Theis. PHOTO: AP

Tatum had 27 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds for the Celtics. Jaylen Brown scored 21. Boston played without three of its top ballhandlers due to injuries.

“We struggled to get stops late but the last two quarters, (the Kings) made a lot of tough plays, too,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. “Fox and Haliburton are a handful.”

Fox scored 13 points in the fourth quarter, including a spectacular driving layup that put the Kings up 102-100.

Tatum’s three-point play pulled the Celtics within 112-111 with 1:06 remaining before Fox connected on a step-back 17-footer with 58.8 seconds left.

Boston’s Javonte Green missed when he tried to dunk past a pair of defenders and Tatum’s three-point try with one second left missed the mark.

Brown declined to put the blame for Boston’s loss on the injuries.

“We’ve been pretty good on back-to-backs all year,” he said. “We were short on bodies, but still a game we could have won.”