It appears the Kings are clicking.
A well-rested Sacramento lineup rolled to its second consecutive win, defeating the Orlando Magic 121-107 at Amway Center on Thursday. The starting lineup of De'Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Marvin Bagley III, Richaun Holmes and Harrison Barnes showcased some impressive chemistry, with all starters scoring in double figures in the win.
Hield was especially stellar, breaking out for 29 points, including 7-of-12 shooting from distance. The 28-year-old racked up five rebounds, three steals and a blocked shot while dishing out three assists in what was arguably his best all-around game of the year.
Hield spoke with NBC Sports Bay Area commentators Doug Christie and Jim Kozimor after the game, where he discussed the Kings' encouraging victory.
"We’ve done a good job scoring the ball all year," Hield said. "Today, once everyone started scoring and clicking … I feel like we’re tough to guard offensively."
Offense has hardly been a worry for Sacramento, with the team coming into Wednesday's contest averaging 112.4 points per game. Defensively, it's been another story.
The Kings have been one of the league's worst teams on defense, but that was far from the case Thursday. Sacramento was aggressive from the tip, leading to one of their best efforts all seaosn. Morale was also notably higher than games prior, with a noticeable uptick in team camaraderie both on the court and on the bench.
That might be in part because of a few additional days off. When Hield was asked if anything had factored in to the change, he had a simple solution.
"We get to practice now," he said.
After the Kings rolled their way to a critical 103-94 win over the New York Knicks on Friday, they had the next four days off thanks to two game postponements due to the NBA's health and safety protocols. They took full advantage of the time off, utilizing rare consistent practice time to hone in on defensive improvements and bolster team chemistry.
"These past games we’ve had a night off, night on, night off, night on," Hield said. "Now, we’ve had three to four days of just straight practice, seeing where we are getting burned on defense, and seeing how we can stop 3’s when the other team is at the 3-point line. Practice has been great for us."
That certainly seems to be the case. Starting out a four-game road trip with a win was crucial for the Kings (7-10), who have won just one other road game so far this year. They will take on the Toronto Raptors on Friday before closing out the road trip with games against the Miami Heat and New Orleans Pelicans.
Hopefully for the Kings, their new-found spirit continues to thrive as they navigate through the season. If it does, they could be poised for a big turnaround.