Until they weren't.
The visiting Kings led 109-87 with 8:10 remaining. They then allowed a 32-8 run to end the game that secured a 119-117 win for the Suns. It was a stunning collapse for the Kings and a big win for the now 22-18 Suns, whose season so far hasn't gone as expected.
What looked like a double-digit loss at home to a Western Conference rival would've only made things worse. Instead, they're left to celebrate one of the more remarkable wins of the NBA season.
Until the late collapse, the Kings were in control from the opening tip. They opened a 39-27 first-quarter lead that they extended to 68-51 at halftime. With 8:22 remaining in the fourth quarter, they extended that lead to 109-87 on a De'Aaron Fox 3-pointer. Then the wheels fell off.
Phoenix's Josh Okogie started the rally with a layup in traffic with 8:09 remaining. That sparked a 7-0 Suns run that the Kings quelled with a Keegan Murray 3-pointer to extend their lead back to 112-94 with 6:14 remaining.
Then the heart of the comeback began. Phoenix ripped off a 15-1 run capped by a Kevin Durant transition 3-pointer that brought the Suns within 113-109 with 2:33 remaining. From there, it was game on.
Every bucket from the Suns 32-8 run that lead them to a huge comeback victory 👀 pic.twitter.com/ddTM0asLR8
— NBA (@NBA) January 17, 2024
The Suns tied the game at 115 on an Eric Gordon 3-pointer with 43.7 seconds remaining.
— Ball Don’t Lie (@Balldontlie) January 17, 2024
They then took a 117-115 lead on a pair of Durant free throws. Fox tied the game on the other end with a floater with 19 seconds remaining. But Fox fouled Durant with 1.1 seconds remaining to put him on the line for the game-winning free throws.
Durant calmly sunk both to secure the 119-117 win. He finished the night with 27 points, five rebounds and four assists. Grayson Allen led the Suns with 29 points, six assists and five rebounds. Devin Booker added 16 points and 11 assists while struggling from the field in a 5-of-14 effort.
Stunned like everyone in the audience, Durant found himself at a loss for words when asked how the Suns managed the unlikely comeback.
“I have no clue,” Durant told reporters postgame. “I usually know how the game is going, but I felt like this was a blur. I felt like I looked up, we were down six. I look up again, it’s a tie game. Everything happened so fast, I guess we were all in a zone and locked in.”
The Suns shot 17-of-37 (45.9%) from 3-point distance, including seven made 3s in the fourth quarter. Fox led Sacramento with 33 points and six assists, an individual effort that will surely give him little solace. The loss dropped the Kings to 23-17.
It's the kind of game that could change the trajectory of the season for either team. How the Suns and the Kings respond will be worth watching.