SACRAMENTO -- Scores. It’s the nickname that Iman Shumpert has coined to describe his Sacramento Kings team. Someone is always ready to step in and take the big shot and no shot was bigger this season than Bogdan Bogdanovic’s buzzer beater Thursday night at Golden 1 Center.
With 4.5 seconds remaining, Willie Cauley-Stein grabbed a rebound off a missed Brandon Ingram free throw and the Kings called a timeout. Like he has so many times this season, Dave Joerger penned a perfect play for the moment and hit pay dirt.
“I said ‘Bogi, you’re going to get it right here, knock this in,’” Joerger said.
Coming off a Cauley-Stein pick, Bogdanovic drew 7-footer Tyson Chandler. Without even knowing who was guarding him, Bogdanovic timed it perfectly, releasing a 27-foot rainbow jumper over the outstretched arms of his defender as the clock hit zero and the lights on the basket turned red.
“Yeah, that was the play,” Bogdanovic said. “That is the practice shot; two dribble pull-up, right step back and shot. Sometimes it goes in, sometimes goes out. Tonight was in.”
The second it left his hand, Bogdanovic was already on his way towards the bench where his teammates were waiting to celebrate the 117-116 victory.
“Oh yeah, as soon as I released it, I know,” a smiling Bogdanovic said. “I was running back and I saw it was coming.”
Bogdanovic was mobbed in a sea of purple. The wild scene almost spilled into the crowd where Kings fans were losing their minds.
“It was really nice, the whole gym was going crazy,” Bogdanovic said. “I don’t know what I was doing after that, honestly.”
It wasn’t the first game winner of Bogdanovic’s career. In fact, he’s won plenty of games like this overseas playing in Europe. But in a season where good things are happening for the Kings, it instantly became a defining moment for both a player and a team.
“[He was] our go-to guy scoring the ball in the fourth quarter and we made a good comeback and he made a big shot,” De’Aaron Fox said following the win.
Like Fox said, it took another big comeback for a moment like this to happen. The Kings continued their trend of falling behind big. At the 6:44 mark of the fourth quarter, they trailed the Lakers 104-89 and looked like they were cooked.
It was a team effort that turned the tide, but Bogdanovic scored 12 points of his team-high 23 points in the final five minutes to lead the way.
“That’s a shot I’ve really worked on,” Bogdanovic said. “I always believe nothing comes from luck and everything comes from hard work and dedication. Teammates and coaches still believe in me, even if I missed two shots before that, and they still drew the play up for me. I knew I was scoring that.”
It’s an interesting vibe in Sacramento. There is a belief in what the Kings are trying to accomplish and an unselfishness to the group that is refreshing.
“I think Buddy [Hield] said it perfectly,” Justin Jackson said. “When somebody hits a shot like that, it feels like everybody hit the shot.”
“For us to have a winning mentality, we have to be excited for each individual to have success,” Jackson added. “I think it showed perfectly tonight.”
Jackson was one of the quiet heroes of the game. With 59.6 remaining in the fourth and the Kings down 112-109, the second-year forward was fouled on a 3-point attempt by Kyle Kuzma. Jackson stepped to the line and hit all three of his freebies to tie the game and help set up the dramatic finish.
“It’s lot of fun, especially when 1-15 is celebrating the same way,” Shumpert said. “If you looked at any of the pictures, you could have thought that any...if you shoot it from the right angle, it looked like I hit the shot, it looked like Buddy hit the shot. It doesn’t matter. That’s part of the definition [of Scores]. It doesn’t really matter who does it, it’s about a collective group getting it done.”
With the victory, the Kings moved to 9-5 in the month of December and 19-16 overall. They have guaranteed a winning record heading into the new year for the first time since the 2004-05 season and they continue to do it as a team.
The team will take the Friday off to rest following the back-to-back. They’ll likely get in a practice on Saturday before heading to Los Angeles to take on this same Lakers team Sunday at Staples Center.