Buddy Hield fired up for Bogdan Bogdanovic's big night in World Cup tuneup


Buddy Hield fired up for Bogdan Bogdanovic's big night in World Cup tuneup

With so much focus on De’Aaron Fox, Harrison Barnes and Marvin Bagley trying to make the Team USA roster, it’s often overlooked that the Sacramento Kings have players all over the globe preparing for the FIBA World Cup in China later this month.

Fox and Barnes still are in the running for Team USA and they'll be joined in the tournament by Cory Joseph, who is playing for Team Canada, Isaiah Pineiro who accepted an invitation to play for Puerto Rico and both Bogdan Bogdanovic and Nemanja Bjelica, who both are part of a powerhouse Serbian national team.

At 4:25 a.m. on Tuesday morning, a video was posted of Bogdanovic dropping a cool 27 points in Serbia’s friendly matchup against Lithuania on Monday evening and it didn’t take long for Buddy Hield to chime in.

Bogdanovic responded to his Kings teammate and of course, Hield never is one to allow someone else to have the last word.

This was the second of two matchups between Serbia and Lithuania this week, with the Serbs taking home victories in both.

Bogdanovic led the way with 18 points and Bjelica chipped 15 in the team’s 72-68 win on Aug. 10. Bogdanovic’s 27 points were tops again in Serbia’s 95-91 win Monday, with Nuggets big man Nikola Jokic chipping in 14.

Serbia is considered one of the favorites to challenge Team USA during the World Cup, although they recently lost Milos Teodosic to injury. In addition to Bogdanovic, Bjelica and Jokic, they also have 7-foot-3 giant Boban Majanovic and 2019 Kings second-round draft pick Vanja Marinkovic on their squad.

"Let’s let [Team USA] play their basketball and we will play ours and if we meet, may God help them," Serbian head coach Sasha Djordjevic said on Serbian National television over the weekend.

Lithuania is stacked as well. They have a big frontline, including the Pacers’ Domantas Sabonis and Memphis Grizzlies center Jonas Valanciunas. In addition, they have Arturas Gudaitis, a 6-foot-10 banger that played for the Kings' summer league team during the 2016-17 season.

[RELATED: Lowry withdraws from Team USA, opens door for Kings' Fox]

Team USA is in Group E with the Czech Republic, Japan and Turkey, so we won't see a Bogdanovic vs. Fox battle early in the tournament. Serbia is part of Group D with Angola, Italy and the Philippines. Team USA opens the tournament against the Czech Republic on Sept. 1, while Serbia and Angola are the first game of the event on Aug. 31.

Watch Russell Westbrook say 'game over' just before Kings' game-winner

Watch Russell Westbrook say 'game over' just before Kings' game-winner

Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.

That message might need to be relayed to Rockets guard Russell Westbrook, as he assumed he had just won his team the game after driving and finishing over Kings center Richaun Holmes with only one second remaining Monday night in Houston.

Buddy Hield had just hit a miraculous 3-pointer on the previous possession to tie the score, and Westbrook assumed there was nothing the Kings could do to win the game in one second after his layup.

Suffice it to say, the former NBA MVP was incorrect.

Nemanja Bjelica sent the Kings home with another road win, and stunned the Rockets with this DEEP buzzer-beater.

[RELATED: What we learned as Bjelica, Kings stun Westbrook, Rockets]

So much for Clutch City.

Nemanja Bjelica comes up clutch again as Kings take down Rockets

Nemanja Bjelica comes up clutch again as Kings take down Rockets

From the lowest lows to the highest highs. Welcome to the 2019-20 Sacramento Kings season.

It was just another manic Monday in Kingsland. After taking down Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks less than 24 hours earlier, the Kings hung around in Houston and then shocked the Rockets at the buzzer by a final of 119-118.

The road-weary Kings looked beat when Russell Westbrook took the ball right through the defense and scored a go-ahead bucket with one second remaining.

On the ensuing play, Cory Joseph scanned the court and waited patiently for Bogdan Bogdanovic to run through and then Buddy Hield.

Coach Luke Walton used his top scorers as decoys for Nemanja Bjelica, who calmly stepped to the left elbow and drilled a 33-footer as time expired.

“I was one of the options,” Bjelica told Grant Napear and Doug Christie following the win. “Great win for us. What can I say? I took a crazy shot. The ball went in. We deserve this win. And that’s it.”

Overmatched, understaffed and playing on the second night of a back-to-back against two of the best teams in the Western Conference, the Kings somehow swept a two-game set with the Mavericks and Rockets.

“We were very brave tonight,” Bjelica said. “It’s hard to play against this team and we played different and we won.”

Bjelica finished the night with 17 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals for Sacramento. He’s not used to chatting with the media in post-game media availability and now he’s been the star of the show for the second straight game.

He wasn’t the only Kings player to put up big numbers. Sacramento tied a franchise record with 20 made 3-pointers, exemplifying a total team effort.

Buddy Hield scored 26 points on 6-of-13 shooting from behind the arc. His three-pointer with 8.4 seconds remaining tied the game and set up the wild final sequence of plays.

Harrison Barnes scored 19 points, including a huge 3-pointer that gave Sacramento the lead with just over a minute to play. Richaun Holmes chipped in 16 points and Joseph went 3-for-5 from deep, not to mention playing spectacular defense against James Harden throughout the night.

Walton turned to an eight-man rotation again after finding success with a smaller group in Dallas on Sunday. That means major minutes for the starters, including Joseph, who is beat up.

[RELATED: What we learned as Bjelica, Kings stun Westbrook, Rockets]

The group responded well to the tightened rotation. They’ve now won two in a row after a disappointing overtime loss in San Antonio on Friday. They somehow salvaged a 2-2 road trip and head home at 10-13 to host the Thunder on Wednesday evening.

It wasn’t a perfect game, but the Kings continue to bounce back and they are competing well, despite an early rash of injuries.