De’Aaron Fox ties game in closing seconds by rebounding own intentionally missed free throw, Kings win in OT

The Sacramento Kings trailed the Minnesota Timberwolves by 19 after three quarters on Thursday. They were without top big man Marvin Bagley, and they were playing on the road, where they had a 9-16 record coming into the day. They trailed by 14 with 100 seconds remaining, and nine with 37 seconds left. And yet, somehow, they managed to pull off a stunning 133-129 overtime victory. 

How did they do it? Buddy Hield’s 42 bench points led the way, but the two biggest points of the night came with only seconds remaining. Up by three, the Timberwolves elected to foul De’Aaron Fox with less than five seconds remaining. He drained the first free throw to cut the deficit down to two. On the second, however, he intentionally missed, lining the ball off of the front of the rim before getting his own rebound and tying the game with a layup. 

Amazingly, the Timberwolves didn’t seem prepared for this possibility. Nobody made any attempt whatsoever to box Fox out. They either didn’t know the score or weren’t prepared for the very real chance that Fox might try the relatively common trick. 

Just because it’s common doesn’t mean it’s typically effective, though. It is the NBA‘s equivalent of the onside kick: it requires precise timing and a perfect bounce in order to work. Fox nailed the miss, and the ball landed right back in his hands. The Timberwolves are so confused at what happened that nobody bothered to even contest Fox’s layup attempt. It was the easiest two points of the night for him. 

The Timberwolves weren’t exactly in the hunt for a playoff spot even before this, but a loss like this one is devastating on several levels. It was completely avoidable through proper situational awareness. Either the players didn’t have it or the coaches didn’t prepare them for this situation. Either way, this is about as miserable a loss as Minnesota will suffer this season, and that’s saying something given their 15-32 record.