Kings

Buddy Hield saves Kings from mistakes in must-win game vs. Grizzlies

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USATSI

Buddy Hield saves Kings from mistakes in must-win game vs. Grizzlies

SACRAMENTO -- In the words of Kings shooting guard and NBA 3-point Champion Buddy Hield, “It be like that sometimes.”

It’s a catch-all phrase that seems to make sense in almost any situation for Sacramento this season.

Blow an 18-point third-quarter lead?

“It be like that sometimes.”

Two fouls by veterans players on 3-point attempts in the final 15.9 seconds?

“It be like that sometimes.”

Hield making six free throws in the final 15.2 seconds of a must-win game, including one that looked like it wanted to hop out?

“It be like that sometimes.”

Coming out of the All-Star break, the Kings have the slimmest hope of climbing back into the postseason chase. A win over the Grizzlies on Thursday and the Kings could climb to within six games of the eighth seed with 27 games remaining.

But a loss at home to Memphis would likely have been a death blow to their chances and put them eight games out of the race.

It wasn’t pretty and it took nearly 2 1/2 hours to work out the details, but the Kings survived a late barrage from the Grizzlies to come away with a 129-125 win. 

A big fourth quarter from rookie Ja Morant and some timely scoring from De’Anthony Melton helped the Grizzlies make a game of it.

With 27.7 seconds remaining, the Kings took a nine-point lead. 20.2 seconds later, the lead was down to one. Missed free throws, inexplicable fouls and defensive lapses by the Kings opened a door for the Grizzlies.

Hield’s heroics at the line were the only thing standing between the Kings and a horribly embarrassing, soul-crushing loss.

“As a team, I don’t think anyone’s going up there being nervous,” De’Aaron Fox said. “Sometimes we just haven’t been making them and Buddy came in and saved us tonight.”

Fox, who scored 26 for the game, missed four out of six free throws in the fourth. Three of those misses came as the Grizzlies were surging in the final minute.

Harry Giles, an 81-percent shooter from the stripe, hit one of two from the line in the final 30 seconds, as well. For a moment, it felt like the walls were closing on the Kings.

Compounding the misses at the line, Harrison Barnes and Kent Bazemore both fouled 3-point shooters in a span of eight seconds inside of 16 seconds left to play. Barnes’ foul was highly questionable and likely will be a late addition to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report on Friday.

In the end, the Kings held on for the win, but those mistakes aren’t something that can be repeated when the margin for error is so slim.

“Collectively, the little details, our communication, our rebounding, things like that, even as you saw tonight, there’s a lot of room for improvement,” Barnes said following the game.

The Kings know what the standings look like and they know how important every game is at this point in the season.

“We just got to chip away, lock in extra hard at this point because every game is critical,” Giles said. “Every game is always critical, but we put ourselves in a position where we can’t really afford to lose games.”

While mistakes were made, there were also plenty of positives. Barnes hit his first seven 3-point attempts and finished with a season-high 32 points. Bazemore was a force on both ends of the court, scoring 18 points in 23 minutes of action.

Fox was aggressive on the defensive end and outplayed Morant, and Giles made three tremendous, game-altering defensive plays late before picking up his sixth foul. His two blocks and a charge drew “Harry, Harry, Harry!” chants from the crowd.

“Three stops wins the game,” Giles said. “That’s what we do in practice and stuff and I just try to translate that.”

It could have been an easier win, but the Grizzlies are 28-27 on the season for a reason. They play hard for 48 minutes, much like the Kings did last year when they won a shocking 39 games.

[RELATED: Bagley sees foot specialist, out at least three more weeks]

Sacramento is focused on one game at a time. The team knows that it’s too early or maybe too late to talk about the playoffs, but it is trying to finish the season strong. Despite all of the craziness in the closing minutes, the Kings found a way to beat the Grizzlies in a must-win game.

“It be like that sometimes.”

Kings' Marvin Bagley defends Harrison Barnes over NBA Finals criticism

Kings' Marvin Bagley defends Harrison Barnes over NBA Finals criticism

It wasn’t the greatest performance by any stretch of the imagination.

Harrison Barnes, then the starting small forward for the Warriors, put together a few disastrous outings in the 2016 NBA Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers, particularly in Warriors’ losses in Games 5 and 7.

During the re-air of those games last week on ESPN, Barnes became a Twitter trend due to how many people were criticizing the forward’s performance.

One person who came to his defense was Kings teammate Marvin Bagley.

Barnes went 2-for-14 from the field and scored just five points in that Game 5, and he proceeded to score just 10 points on 3-of-10 shooting in Game 7.

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Golden State replaced Barnes with Kevin Durant that offseason, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Barnes spent almost three seasons with the Dallas Mavericks after signing in free agency, before coming over to Sacramento in a midseason trade in 2019. The forward signed a lucrative four-year extension with the Kings in July, and was averaging 14.7 points and 4.8 rebounds prior to the NBA’s coronavirus suspension in March.

[RELATED: Ranking Kings' five best NBA draft lottery picks since 1990]

The criticism only added to what was a rough week for Barnes on social media. He also took a beating in the NBA 2K Players Tournament from Atlanta Hawks star Trae Young.

Sports week in coronavirus: Kings step up with facilities, donations

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AP

Sports week in coronavirus: Kings step up with facilities, donations

Editor's note: Each Monday during the coronavirus pandemic, Monte Poole will examine the virus within the scope of the sports world.

Though greater Sacramento was creeping toward 500 confirmed cases of the coronavirus as of Sunday afternoon -- a fraction of the total cases in the more heavily populated Bay Area -- the Kings literally are opening their doors to provide assistance.

The former Arco Arena, hard by I-5 and where the Kings played for 28 years, is being converted to a temporary remote hospital in which it is anticipated about 360 beds will be available to coronavirus and trauma care patients, perhaps early next week.

The Kings didn’t stop there. They then donated their former practice facility, adjacent to the arena in the Natomas area of northwest Sacramento, to be utilized as a surge field hospital.

For their next move, the Kings donated $250,000 to community groups that provide food and other essentials to those in the area that have been afflicted. They’ve also pledged to donate 100,000 masks to state and local agencies.

At the behest of Kings CEO Vivek Ranadive, the team’s COO, Matina Kolokotronis, offered the facilities to Gov. Gavin Newson, who accepted almost immediately.

It took a few weeks for the Kings' franchise to confront the crisis, but this is a massive and very welcome contribution.

Wealthy man donates paychecks

As a finely tuned athlete who has earned a quarter-billion dollars, owns an MVP award, two Cy Young awards and is married to one of the world’s most famous models, Justin Verlander already was the envy of millions of men around the world.

Now he’s climbing another rung of respect. The Astros pitcher has pledged to forward every paycheck he receives during MLB’s shutdown toward relief efforts. With all veteran players receiving $4,775 per day, for at least 60 days, the donation comes to almost $300,000.

The donations will go to a different organization each week in the hope of touching healthcare workers, first responders and those jobless as a result of the global pandemic.

Though Verlander is in the first season of a two-year, $66 million extension signed last year, those funds won’t start coming his way until the games begin.

Though the decision did not shield Verlander from the social-media venom directed at the Astros after their sign-stealing scandal was exposed, his cause is bigger than their snark. Besides, his wife, Kate Upton, is there to comfort him.

Sports Humanitarian of the Week: Kubrat Pulev

Unless you’re a native Bulgarian or a devoted fan of boxing, you might not be familiar with Kubrat Pulev. That’s OK. You don’t have to know him to thank him for donating about 25 percent of his estimated $8 million net worth.

There are plenty of worthy candidates for our weekly honor, but “a split-decision” goes to Pulev because his pledge is as unexpected as it is generous. He’s signed to challenge IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua, but the original date, June 20 in London, is postponed because of coronavirus.

Pulev, 38, announced over the weekend that he will donate “50 percent” of the money he earns from the fight, whenever it takes place. He is expected to earn roughly $5 million.

“I will give doctors, nurses and hospitals the necessary equipment to deal with this devilish virus,” he told German newspaper Bild.

On the scale of personal sacrifice, Pulev’s pledge blows away those of anyone else to go public.

Big man, bigger money, biggest donation

Steve Ballmer is the wealthiest team owner in American sports. He’s 16th on the global wealth list. So, it’s reasonable and fair that he would make the largest donation from the sports world.

The man who in 2014 bought the Clippers for $2 billion -- and recently purchased the Inglewood Forum property for $400 million cash -- is the first individual to offer an eight-figure donation: $25 million.

He won’t feel the slightest pinch from his donation, but it’s enough to buy a lot of masks, meals and ventilators.

Power brokers unite

Steph Curry and younger brother Seth are among more than 130 sports figures coming together to raise funds through donating various items to be raffled off under the banner “Athletes for Relief.”

The list of figures -- current athletes, retired athletes, coaches, TV personalities etc. -- is growing each day.

The running total stood at $154,000 late Sunday night, with the most valuable item being a football signed by former Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski that fetched $41,375.

Million-mask man

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft is wealthy enough to have a Boeing 767 jet at his disposal. In an effort to contribute to the cause, he decided to gas it up.

Kraft sent the team plane to China to pick up 1.2 million N95 masks and bring them to Boston to be distributed to health-care workers in Massachusetts and New York.

Kraft and his son, Jonathan, collaborated with Gov. Charlie Baker to cover the costs. They came to the rescue after Baker expressed his frustrations with the federal government essentially stepping in to reroute equipment initially earmarked for Massachusetts.

As happens so often, the Patriots found a way to win.

Among others standing tall

Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeff Lurie donated $1 million to Penn Medicine for Immunology Defense Fund.

International soccer star Neymar pledged a $1 million donation to fight coronavirus in his native Brazil.

Philadelphia 76ers forward Al Horford pledges $500,000 to cities he has represented from college to the NBA, including Atlanta, Boston and Gainesville, Fla.

Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper and his wife, Kayla, are pledging $500,000 to the relief effort.

Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart, having cleared coronavirus danger zone after testing positive, is donating blood in an effort to aid coronavirus research.

Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay is donating 10,000 N95 masks to the Indiana Department of Health.

Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum pledges $170,000 to communities in Portland and Akron-Canton (his home region).

New York Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole and his wife, Amy, (sister of Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford) are making an undisclosed but “significant” contribution.

Tested positive, in isolation

Former MLB star Jim Edmonds and tennis-player-turned-analyst Patrick McEnroe announced their status via social media.

Sad farewell

Former NFL kicker Tom Dempsey died due to the effects of coronavirus. Born without toes on his right foot, he lasted 11 years in the NFL and his 63-yard field goal -- off a special boot -- stood as a record for 43 years. He was 73.

Items compiled through reporting, research and collected from various sources.