Buddy Hield's career night unable to save Kings from loss to Celtics

Buddy Hield's career night unable to save Kings from loss to Celtics

Buddy Hield came into Monday night in a shooting slump. He’d hit just 5-of-22 from behind the arc over his previous three games and he certainly didn’t look like himself.

Hield is a shooter. It often only takes one ball going through the net to get him going and that is exactly what happened Monday evening in Boston.

The Kings shooting guard started slow and then went crazy versus the Celtics, scoring a career-high 41 points at TD Garden.

“He got his rhythm going,” coach Luke Walton told reporters following the Kings' 103-102 loss to the Celtics. “Buddy’s an incredible shooter and we as a team know that when he’s hot, lets find him. You’ve got to give his teammates credit too.”

Thirty-three of Hield’s points came behind the 3-point line where he set a new franchise record with 11 makes from long range.

“Thank God for this opportunity, it’s a great opportunity, great career-high, 11 threes,” Hield told reporters. “It’s hard to do in this league, never discredit that. I’ll have another crack at it and hopefully I’ll get a ‘W’.”

While Hield was on fire, his team fell at the buzzer. Hield was a decoy on the final possession, with Bogdan Bodganovic launching a well defended triple that went off line in the final moments.

Scoring is nice, but winning is the main focus this season for both Hield and the Kings. The 26-year-old guard was upset after the game that his team fell to 7-9 on the season after having a shot to climb back into the playoff picture with a win.

“I felt pissed off,” Hield said. “We tricked the lead in the second quarter.”

Sacramento held a big first half lead, but Hield is correct. The Kings squandered an 11-point margin in the second quarter and trailed 53-46 going to the half.

Hield woke up coming out of the intermission, dropping 21 of his game-high 41 in the third. He got off to a slow start in the fourth and then sat for a few minutes to charge up. Down the stretch, Walton turned back to his shooter and Hield hit huge shots to finish with nine in the final frame.

The loss was hardly on Hield, but basketball is a team sport. Harrison Barnes played well, scoring 20 points on the evening. Bogdanovic struggled with his shot, but he still managed to finish with 13 points and eight assists.

“To win in this league, it takes a team,” Walton said. “We’re going to keep looking for him, but we need everyone to step up and make plays.”

The Kings are 1-2 on their current four-game East Coast swing. Despite injuries to both Marvin Bagley and De’Aaron Fox, the team is battling back after an 0-5 start to the season and are 7-4 over their last 11 games.

“It’s been great for us, especially without our point guard,” Hield said. “We’re making good strides. We can’t get satisfied. We can’t be too relaxed sometimes. We’ve got to stay locked in and keep getting better. We haven’t done nothing yet. Still not in playoff contention.”

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The loss to Boston stings. The Kings had the ball trailing by one with 5.6 seconds remaining. They didn’t get a good shot in the final possession, but it was another opportunity to gain experience and show that this team plays hard each and every night.

They’ll get a shot to even the road trip on Wednesday evening when they travel to Philadelphia to face the 76ers. Philly is another quality Eastern Conference opponent, but the Kings are playing well and proving they can compete with any team in the league.

Buddy Hield matches rare Kobe Bryant stat day after NBA legend's death

Buddy Hield matches rare Kobe Bryant stat day after NBA legend's death

Don’t lie, did you stop watching? Did you angrily turn off the Sacramento Kings game in the fourth quarter thinking that they had lost another game to the Minnesota Timberwolves?

If you did, you missed a moment. You missed Buddy Hield harnessing the Mamba Mentality and helping his Kings pull off an improbable comeback. 

Down 22 with 5:43 remaining in the fourth quarter, coach Luke Walton left his rotational guys in the game and they responded. First Nemanja Bjelica hit a three ball. And then Bogdan Bogdanovic. And then Hield hit the nitro button.

The Kings’ leading scorer dropped in 20 of his career-high 42 points in the fourth, including 12 in the final 4:34 as the Kings tracked down the T-Wolves. 

A huge Kobe Bryant fan, Hield matched the legend with an obscure nugget dug up by ESPN’s Stats Info. 

Following the Kings' emotional 133-129 overtime victory, Hield stopped by and spoke to NBC Sports California’s Grant Napear and Doug Christie to discuss the game and what Bryant, who passed away on Sunday in a helicopter accident, meant to him growing up as a kid in the Bahamas.

“It was tough,” Hield said of preparing to play the game after Bryant’s death. “Just knowing where I came from and knowing what Kobe instilled in my life, everything was Kobe Bryant.”

With only nationally televised games available to watch, Hield was drawn to Bryant and his Los Angeles Lakers. He’s modeled his game after the 18-time All-Star and adopted Bryant’s work ethic as his own.

“Kobe was always that guy for me,” Hield said. “He made me believe, man and that’s why I’m here today because I wanted to chase what he’s chasing.” 

Hield knocked down 14-of-24 from the field and 9-for-14 from behind the arc. His 42 points surpassed his previous high of 41 that he set earlier in the season.

[RELATED: Walton reflects on Kobe's death]

“In the overtime, I didn’t want to score no more,” Hield said. “I had 42 points, I had five rebounds, three assists. Turn 42 around to 24. Five and three assists is eight points.”

Bryant wore No. 24 and No. 8 during his time with the Lakers. He made a tremendous impact on an entire group of young players, including Hield.

“It’s all Kobe, man, it’s all for Kobe,” Hield added.

Kings takeaways: What we learned in stunning 133-129 win vs. T-Wolves

Kings takeaways: What we learned in stunning 133-129 win vs. T-Wolves

The early focus of the Kings' game Monday against the Minnesota Timberwolves wasn't on the court as much as it was on NBA legend Kobe Bryant, who died Sunday at the age of 41 on Sunday along with eight others in a tragic helicopter accident. 

Sacramento looked listless from the opening tip. Maybe it was the emotions of the previous 24 hours. Maybe it was the end of the long road trip. Whatever the reason, the effort wasn’t there early. 

And then, the Kings started playing. 

In a wild contest that spilled into overtime, the Kings (17-29) battled back and came away with an incredible 133-129 victory over the Timberwolves (15-32).

Here are three takeaways from the Kings' second straight win.

Buddy was ready

Buddy Hield grew up idolizing Bryant, and he paid homage to the legend the way Bryant would have wanted Monday at Target Center. 

Hield lit the T-Wolves up in the first half and continued his assault in the second, finishing the night with 42 points on 24 shots. Twenty-four, of course, was Bryant's number for much of his Los Angeles Lakers career and is Hield's now in Sacramento.

Since being sent to the bench two games ago, the Kings’ leading scorer looks more like himself. He’s hitting his shots, playing with confidence and making good decisions. 

Sneaky like a Fox

With his team trailing by three points in the final seconds of regulation, De’Aaron Fox was fouled before he could get off a game-tying 3-point attempt. 

He went to the line and hit the first free throw. With the Kings down two, Fox threw the ball off the front rim, grabbed his own miss and put it back up for an improbable comeback with 3.6 seconds remaining. 

Fox came up huge late, finishing with 22 points, eight assists and seven rebounds in the Kings' win. 

[RELATED: Kings' Walton reflects on loss of his close friend Kobe]

Guard somebody

Clearly the Kings’ plan coming into the game was to double big man Karl-Anthony Towns and make the Timberwolves shooters beat them. That is exactly what they almost did.

Andrew Wiggins hit 7-of-11 from deep. Robert Covington knocked down 6-of-10, and six other T-Wolves dropped in a triple as Minnesota hit a franchise-record 23 3-pointers. 

There was a plan. It didn’t work. The adjustment came late, and somehow the Kings pulled off the win.