Most players need two good hands to dominate an NBA game.
Not Domantas Sabonis.
Sabonis showed obvious signs of discomfort while playing with an avulsion fracture of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right thumb, but that didn’t stop him from doing what he does.
Sabonis had 28 points, 11rebounds and eight assists as the Kings concluded a six-game homestand with a 126-125 victory over the Utah Jazz on Friday night at Golden 1 Center. Sabonis went 12 of 12 from the field with two 3-pointers, posting his 12th consecutive double-double and his NBA-leading 25th of the season.
Kevin Huerter scored a career high 30 points for the Kings (19-15), who will visit the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday and the Jazz on Tuesday before returning to Sacramento for a five-game homestand. De’Aaron Fox had 24 points and 10 assists.
Lauri Markkanen scored 36 points for the Jazz (20-18). Jordan Clarkson had 25.
Kings coach Mike Brown returned to the bench after missing two games against the Denver Nuggets due to NBA health and safety protocols. Brown entered the league’s protocol system Tuesday after testing positive for COVID-19.
During his pregame news conference, Brown was asked about Sabonis, who is attempting to play through the injury rather than undergoing a surgical procedure that could sideline him for four to six weeks. Sabonis returned after missing one game to post 31 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in Wednesday’s 127-126 victory over the Nuggets.
Brown said two different hand specialists determined Sabonis could play without causing further injury depending on his pain tolerance.
“He’s tough,” Brown said. “I’ve been around a lot of guys in my 30, 31 years in the NBA, and, man, he ranks right up there in guys that are tough as nails, and then that just play so fricking hard every single possession. What he did in the last game doesn’t surprise me at all. … If something happens where he has to get surgery, then it’s next man up. The next man has to step up and be ready to play for us. In the meantime, we’re going to keep it rolling.”
The Kings led 30-27 at the end of the first quarter. They went up by nine early in the second, but they were clinging to a 60-57 lead at the half despite shooting 52.1% from the field.
Sacramento went up 77-67 on a basket by Harrison Barnes midway through the third quarter. Utah came back to cut the deficit to two on a basket by Markkanen.
The Kings carried a 91-87 advantage into the fourth quarter. Utah took its first lead of the game when Mike Conley made a 3-pointer to put the Jazz up 94-91 with 10:13 to play. The Kings reclaimed the lead on a basket by Sabonis.
The Kings and Jazz continued to trade blows during a frenetic fourth quarter that featured six ties and 12 lead changes.
Utah was on the verge of stealing the game after a couple of baskets by Markkanen and a free throw by Conley put the Jazz up 125-123, but Huerter buried a go-ahead 3-pointer with 9.0 seconds to play and Markkanen missed a 16-footer with 2.1 seconds remaining.
“That building went off,” Huerter said. “Great feeling, obviously, just for us to keep that possession alive. I think we had two offensive rebounds in there. Fox tried to get to the bucket. Just keeping that ball alive, that’s a will to win.”