The Kings did exactly what they needed to do on their road trip against primarily cellar-dwelling teams - win three out of four and return home over .500 on the season. But for 24 minutes, it looked like Sacramento might not be so lucky.
The dysfunctional Chicago Bulls (6-22) gave the Kings all they could handle early, but the visiting squad came out with a different mindset in the third quarter. With a dominant performance in the second half, the Kings pulled away for a 108-89 victory.
Sacramento currently stands at 14-12 on the season with the win. Here are a few positives and negative from the game:
First half blues
Buddy Hield and De'Aaron Fox struggled in the first half. Fox missed all five of his shot attempts and posted just two assists before the break. Hield hit a late 3-pointer to get on the board after missing his first five attempts.
The Kings won't normally be able to afford either of their top two scorers to have an off night, let alone both of them. The Bulls led by as many as 14 in the second quarter and took an 11 point lead into the intermission. But then they let Sacramento off the hook.
A better team could have put the Kings away early while Fox and Hield were adjusting their energy levels.
Fox steals the show
After looking out of sorts early, Fox broke out in the third quarter. It started on the defensive end with a pair of steals, but once the 20-year-old got going on the offensive end, the Bulls had no answer.
Fox dropped 16 points in the period, hitting 3-of-4 from behind the arc and single handedly changing the entire pace and tempo of the game.
When Fox is hitting from the perimeter, he's tough to stop. When he's playing elite defense, he's impossible.
Bagley vs. Carter
The battle of the rookie bigs was fun to watch. Marvin Bagley (#2 pick) and Wendell Carter Jr. (#7 pick) teamed up last season at Duke and faced off on Monday for the first time in their young NBA careers.
Bagley scored 16 points on 5-of-9 shooting, showing his high-end potential as an offensive weapon. Carter dropped in eight points and eight rebounds, while his team lost by 19.
Although Bagley came away with the stat line and the win, he also posted a second straight sub-par rebounding night, which is why he makes both the positive and the negative list.
Since returning from a back injury three games ago, Bagley has grabbed a total of five rebounds. That's a concern.
Impacting the game
Willie Cauley-Stein isn't consistently scoring or consistently rebounding, but he is consistently producing for the Kings.
Against the Bulls, he hit the glass for a season-high 16 rebounds to go with 11 points, three assists and three steals.
The double-double was the ninth of the season for the Kings' starting center. He had a total of 12 double-doubles in 73 games played last season.
Cauley-Stein isn't perfect, but he's seems to be figuring out what his team needs on a nightly basis. He's active on both ends of the court and he's making an impact.