De’Aaron Fox scores 37, but Kings lose to Jazz after storming back from 25-point deficit

De’Aaron Fox turned in another stellar performance to help the Kings storm back from a 25-point deficit, but they couldn’t hold on in the final minutes after rallying to take the lead in the fourth quarter.

An otherwise unblemished four-game road trip ended with a 128-120 loss to the Utah Jazz on Monday night before a sellout crowd of 18,206 at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City. The Kings led by three with less than five minutes remaining, but they trailed most of the game after getting outscored 40-19 in the first period.

“I think we lost this game in the first quarter,” Fox said. “We shot ourselves in the foot. Obviously, we fought back, but you don’t even want to be in that type of position.”

Fox had 37 points and seven assists for the Kings (43-28), who fell to third in the Western Conference, one game behind the Memphis Grizzlies. The Kings will play the Boston Celtics on the second night of a back-to-back Tuesday at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento.

Rookie Keegan Murray scored 22 points while going 6 of 14 from 3-point range. Domantas Sabonis nearly posted another triple-double, finishing with 11 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists.

“It sucks because, obviously, tomorrow we have Boston,” Sabonis said. “Would have been nice to get this one, but if anything, especially me, it should light some fire up everyone’s behind and come ready to play tomorrow. We can’t come out that way.”

Ochai Agbaji scored 27 points to lead the Jazz (35-36), which is vying for one of four play-spots in the West. Kelly Olynyk had 19 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. Rookie center Walker Kessler was a force inside, posting 10 points, eight rebounds and five blocked shots.

“The big fella was a monster,” Kings coach Mike Brown said. “Walker Kessler, you’ve got to give him credit. We couldn’t get anything at the rim, so we just relied on jumpers and the jumpers didn’t always fall.”

Utah outscored Sacramento 56-38 on points in the paint while using a 1-3-1 zone defense to hold the Kings to 42.3% shooting.

“They did what they knew they were supposed to do coming into the game,” Brown said. “They played their zone and it brought us to a standstill in the first quarter. After that, our guys started making the simple pass and the simple read, and we got great shots the rest of the way, but defensively we weren’t good. We weren’t physical at all. They kind of got to their spots, got where they wanted, and that helped them start the game feeling really, really comfortable.”

All-Star forward Lauri Markkanen did not play for Utah due to back soreness. Jordan Clarkson (hand) and Collin Sexton (hamstring) were also out due to injuries. Brown said their absences wouldn’t — or at least shouldn’t — change his team’s approach to the game.

“For us, it doesn’t matter who’s in or who’s out,” Brown said. “I got this from (San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich) and maybe he’s different now, I don’t know, but a lot of times he’s more worried about his team than his opponent, especially in the regular season. Your team has a way that you play, and so I’m looking at our team and the way that we’re supposed to play no matter who’s in front of us, and if we meet those standards, we feel confident that we should win.

“This league is extremely talented. You see missing guys all the time and they still go and get wins, and so we have a lot of respect for everybody in this league, no matter who’s suiting up. For us, it’s about us more than it’s about who’s going to play for those guys tonight because they can get a win real easy if we don’t play up to our standards.”

That’s exactly what happened in the first quarter.

The Jazz jumped out to a 15-6 lead over the first three minutes and led 27-15 after making 9 of 12 from the field to start the game. The deficit continued to grow for the Kings, who trailed by 22 after going 6 of 25 from the field and 1 of 10 from 3-point range over the first 10:30.

Utah led 40-19 at the end of the first quarter and went up by as many as 25 in the second. Fox scored 14 points in the second period — including 11 in a span of 1:22 — to help Sacramento cut the deficit to 13. The Kings still found themselves down by 16 at the halftime break, but the momentum had shifted.

The Kings staged a 13-2 run to get within five early in the third quarter. They tied the game on a 3-pointer by Malik Monk late in the third and took their first lead of the night when Chimezie Metu converted a three-point play to put them up 100-98 with 9:15 to play in the fourth.

The teams traded leads over the next five minutes. Monk made a driving layup to put the Kings up 113-110 with 4:37 to play, but Kris Dunn answered with a 3-pointer to spark a 13-5 run that put Utah in control.

“With the way that we play and the way the game is played now, you’re likely always in a game,” said Fox, who produced his 65th 30-point game to tie Chris Webber for the sixth-most in franchise history. “You always have a chance to get back in the game, so we never felt like we were just going to lose this game or lay down and lose. We were able to fight back, but we weren’t able to finish the game.”

How’s Huerter?

The Kings played their second game in a row without sharpshooter Kevin Huerter, who is recovering from a strained popliteus muscle behind his right knee. Kessler Edwards started again in place of Huerter, posting six points, one rebound and two assists while finishing a team-best plus-16 in 19 minutes.

Huerter is averaging 15.0 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.9 assists while shooting 40.8% from 3-point range this season. He is shooting 56.6% from beyond the arc in March.

Brown was asked before the game how close Huerter is to returning and if he might be available for Tuesday’s game against the Celtics.

“He’s close,” Brown said. “If this is a playoff game, he’d probably be able to play, but there’s no need for me to rush him back. Kind of like Foxy a week ago or whatever. Really no need to rush Fox back when we had a tight crunch of games, especially when we see that we have a day off coming, a practice day and then a game, and we’re close to the end of the season. It also gives us an opportunity. We feel like we’re deep and we always talk about the next man step up, so it can’t be any different. The next man’s got to step up and give us a chance to continue to take a look at different combinations.”

Road weary

The Kings were playing their fifth game in eight days and their fourth road game in six nights after making stops in Chicago, Brooklyn and Washington, D.C.

The Kings had won eight in a row on the road dating back to their 176-175 double-overtime win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Feb. 24. They are 22-14 on the road this season, giving them the best road record in the Western Conference by a wide margin. The Clippers have the next best road record at 19-18.