With help from an unlikely source, Buddy Hield rescues Kings in win over OKC

With help from an unlikely source, Buddy Hield rescues Kings in win over OKC

SACRAMENTO -- The Sacramento Kings have struggled to hit shots early in the 2017-18 season. They came into Tuesday night’s game against the Thunder averaging just 93.8 points per game, good enough for 29th in the NBA.

Through the first quarter it looked like the team might set a new NBA record for the least points scored in a game.

And then Buddy Hield showed up.

“I’ve been trying to find a rhythm for the whole season,” Hield said following the Kings win over the Thunder on Tuesday evening. “Thank god I finally got some to fall down. Just trusting what I do, trusting what got me here. It was good to see the ball go in.”

Hield came in off the bench to drop in a pair of buckets in the late first quarter to cut the Thunder’s lead to 25-10. He came out hot in the second quarter, launching and hitting 6-of-7 from the field, including a perfect 3-of-3 from long range.

After shooting just 39.4 percent from the field and 26.3 percent from deep through nine games, Hield finished the night with a team-high 21 points on 7-of-9 shooting.

“Buddy gave everyone confidence by his shots falling,” coach Dave Joerger said. “What I really liked about Buddy in the first half is I think he was 6-for-7 but he got six or seven wide open looks for his teammates by penetrating and finding the open guy and making the right play. That is my ‘atta boy’ for Buddy.”

Hield credited an unlikely source for his improvement. Rookie Bogdan Bogdanovic has been in his ear, helping him pick up some subtle nuances to the game in hopes of opening the floor for his teammates.

“Guys know I love to score, but I’ve been talking to Bogi too,” Hield added. “Bogi’s been helping me a lot through this. We sit next to each other on the plane and he’s like, ‘If you make this pass right here, that makes the ball move.’ I just really took to that.”

It’s one game, but for a young player who’s struggled early in the season, it’s a place to start for Hield. He hit the glass hard again, coming away with seven rebounds in 28 minutes of action. The assists totals aren’t there yet, but the ball moved more freely around the court for Sacramento while the 23-year-old guard was on the floor.

Bogdanovic, Kings look to beat Warriors at Oracle for second time this season


Bogdanovic, Kings look to beat Warriors at Oracle for second time this season

No rest for the weary. The Kings hit game four of their five games in seven nights stretch. They’ll draw a beat up, but dangerous Golden State Warriors team Friday night at Oracle Arena.

Sacramento is coming off a wild overtime win against the playoff bound Miami Heat on Wednesday. De’Aaron Fox hit a floater as time expired to push the game to overtime and fellow rookie Bogdan Bogdanovic drilled a late 3-pointer to put the game away late in the extra session.

Golden State trails the Houston Rockets by two games for the top overall seed in the Western Conference playoff chase. They’ve already clinched another Pacific division title, but they are at risk for missing out on the top seed. Every game counts as they hit the stretch run.


Warriors by 12


Willie Cauley-Stein vs. Zaza Pachulia -- It might not be the matchup people bought tickets to see, but it’s the matchup they’re going to get. With the Warriors banged up, Pachulia has stepped up and filled a valuable role in the middle. He’s strong as an ox and does all the dirty work. Cauley-Stein is getting his legs back under him after missing 10 days with a back strain. He’s improved in year four, but still needs to work on his consistency.  


Kings: 22-47, fourth place in Pacific

Warriors: 52-16, first place in Pacific


Kings: PF Skal Labissiere (hip contusion) questionable, SF/SG Iman Shumpert (knee rehab/plantar fasciitis) out, PF Harry Giles (bilateral knee rehab) out until January.

Warriors: PF Jordan Bell (ankle) probable, PG Quinn Cook (hand contusion) probable, PF David West (arm cyst) probable, SF Kevin Durant (ribs soreness) out, PG Steph Curry (ankle) out, SG Klay Thompson (thumb) out, SG Patrick McGaw (wrist) out.


Wounded Warriors -- Golden State will play without three of their four All-Stars. The Kings took advantage of the Warriors early in the season when they were the similar situation of missing All-Stars. Sacramento needs to stay the course and continue to play with effort as they finish the schedule, regardless of who suits up for their opponent.

Big Moments -- If there is one thing that stands out in the 2017-18 season for Sacramento, it’s the clutch plays by the young players. Fox has four shots in his rookie season that either won or tied a game in the final seconds. Bogdanovic, Skal Labissiere and Buddy Hield have come through with big shots as well.  

Come Out Firing -- The best way to beat the Warriors is to make them work for their shots. The best way to make them work for their shots is to score baskets and set up the defense. If the Kings can put up an efficient offensive night, they have a shot of dethroning the shorthanded champs.


The Kings and Warriors are all knotted at one game apiece in the season series. Golden State holds a 201-187 lead in the all-time series and a 73-66 advantage during the Sacramento-era.

After another clutch shot, De'Aaron Fox pulls back curtain on mindset in big moments


After another clutch shot, De'Aaron Fox pulls back curtain on mindset in big moments

SACRAMENTO -- You can’t teach clutch. Either you got it or you don’t. De’Aaron Fox has it.

In his rookie season in the NBA, the 20-year-old out of Kentucky has found himself in plenty of big moments already.

Who can forget his 18-foot game-winning jumper over the outstretched arms of the Sixers Robert Covington back in November that gave the Kings a 109-108 win.

On the road in Miami on January 25, he went over the top of the Heat defense with a putback dunk to snap the Kings’ 15-game losing streak at AmericanAirlines Arena.

Two weeks ago against the Brooklyn Nets, Fox went baseline and hit a high arching floater over the top of a defender as time expired to push the game into overtime.

Wednesday at Golden 1 Center, the Kings blew a 16-point lead to the Heat, but again, it was Fox that saved the day.

With just three seconds remaining, Fox took the inbounds pass from fellow rookie Bogdan Bogdanovic. He instantly got into the body of veteran Goran Dragic, riding the All-Star guard right down the middle of the lane.

With four defenders converging on the play, Fox used his left hand to maneuver through a sea of arms and hit a 9-foot floater. The replay shows the ball leaving the 6-foot-3 guard’s hand just before the clock hits zero. The ball cut through the net and Golden 1 Center exploded.

“I feel like guys that want those moments, want to play in those close games, those guys are the ones who thrive,” Fox told media members following the Kings’ 123-119 overtime win. “You don’t usually see the guys that want the shot, miss the shot a lot. It’s the basketball gods just rewarding us for wanting to do it.”

Fox’s jumper extended the game by five minutes and the young Kings kept charging forward. The speedy guard came through with two big stops on Dragic down the stretch, showing that he is more than just an offensive weapon.

“I feel like I can be one of the best two-way players in this league in some time,” Fox said. “That guy, he’s an All-Star. He’s good. You just try to get him out of rhythm, try to make it tough. He had a great game, but down the stretch, I just tried to make it tough on him.”

Dragic finished the night with a game-high 33 points, but he shot just 1-of-3 from the field in the extra frame as Fox put the clamps on him.

Fox wasn’t the only player to come up big for Sacramento. Buddy Hield chipped in 12 of his team-high 24 points in the fourth quarter and he added four points in the overtime session. Zach Randolph chipped in 22 points and nine rebounds in 33 minutes and Bogdanovic hit a huge 3-pointer with 1:03 remaining in the extra session to put the game away.

“We’ve got a lot of guys that aren’t scared,” Fox said. “Once we sent it to overtime, it’s pretty much crunch time the whole five minutes and we have a whole bunch of guys that can make plays and make shots.”

Injuries to Willie Cauley-Stein and Skal Labissiere have forced Randolph back into action full-time for Sacramento. Despite a 22-47 record, the 36-year-old big sees major improvement in the team’s young core.

“I’ve got a lot of confidence in my young guys,” Randolph said. “They play hard and they put the time in and they work hard. When we get on the court, it applies on the court and that’s what they’re doing. I’m proud of them.”

Fox isn’t the only young player to come up clutch for the Kings this season. Skal Labissiere drilled a 3-pointer against the New York Knicks on March 4 to give Sacramento a win and both Bogdanovic and Hield have come through plenty of times with the big shots.

The Kings return to the floor Friday in Oakland where they face the Golden State Warriors on the first night of a back-to-back. While out of the hunt in the Western Conference playoff race, they continue to play hard, posting a 4-4 over their last eight games.