Kings

Joerger faces tough decision with Bogdanovic out vs Pistons

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AP

Joerger faces tough decision with Bogdanovic out vs Pistons

SACRAMENTO -- It’s time for some home cooking. The Sacramento Kings open a six-game homestand Monday night at Golden 1 Center. They’ll host a struggling Detroit Pistons team that has lost three straight and seven of their last eight.

The Kings battled the Utah Jazz all the way down the wire Saturday evening at Vivint Smart Home Arena, before falling in the final minute. Buddy Hield put up 20-plus points for his third straight game to lead Sacramento.

Detroit looked like a playoff team for much of the season and then the wheels fell off their bus. They have plenty of talent, but so far, they are struggling to find chemistry since acquiring All-Star Blake Griffin at the deadline.

BETTING LINE
Pistons by 3.5

MATCHUP TO WATCH
Skal Labissiere vs. Blake Griffin -- The Kings have struggled to contain Griffin throughout his career. Whether he starts or not, second-year big Skal Labissiere is likely to see plenty of time against the high-scoring power forward. Labissiere is averaging 11.6 points, 5.9 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 27 minutes a game in March. He needs to move his feet and avoid foul trouble against Griffin.

WHERE THEY STAND
Kings: 23-48, fourth place in Pacific

Pistons: 30-39, fourth place in Central

INJURY REPORT
Kings: SG Bogdan Bogdanovic (left hamstring soreness) out, SG/SF Iman Shumpert (knee rehab/plantar fasciitis) out, PF Harry Giles (bilateral knee rehab) out for the season.

Pistons: PG Reggie Jackson (ankle) out, PF Jon Leuer (ankle) out.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH
Decisions, Decisions -- With Bogdanovic out for the evening, Dave Joerger has a tough choice to make. Does he elevate Hield into the starting lineup and disrupt his bench unit? Or does he start veteran Garrett Temple alongside De’Aaron Fox. Hield has earned a look with the starters, but he’s on fire with the second team.

Keep Fighting -- Plenty of fans want the Kings to lay down and preserve their spot in the NBA’s Draft Lottery. The Kings are trying to build a winning culture around a group of young players. They are developing an identity as the season heads towards its conclusion and there is no reason to let up.

Shoot the 3-ball -- The Kings trail only the Golden State Warriors in 3-point percentage. They hit 14-of-21 from behind the arc against the Jazz, but that’s not enough. The goal should be 30 threes per game from here on out. The team has the shooters, they just need to hoist it up more often.

SERIES HISTORY
The Pistons lead the season series 1-0 and are looking for the sweep. Detroit holds a 134-119 advantage over the Kings all-time and a 37-26 edge during the Sacramento-era.

Buddy Hield breaks mentor Peja Stojakovic's record in 'special' moment

Buddy Hield breaks mentor Peja Stojakovic's record in 'special' moment

SACRAMENTO -- Buddy Hield opened as the starting shooting guard for the Sacramento Kings this season as a replacement for the injured Bogdan Bogdanovic. 72 games later, Hield has not only cemented himself as team’s starter, but he’s the Kings’ leading scorer and now a record breaker.

It’s not often you see a player seize an opportunity like Hield has. He hit a 3-pointer less than five seconds into the the Kings’ win over the Phoenix Suns on Saturday to move within one of Peja Stojakovic’s franchise record for most makes from behind the arc in a single season.

After heading to the bench to finish the first quarter, Hield returned in the second and in a span of 30 seconds tied and then surpassed Stojakovic’s mark of 240 makes.

“Getting the record from Peja, he left a mark on this franchise, it’s pretty big,” Hield said. “It’s something special. Hope I can keep it for many years, but who knows. There’s always going to be some other kid that’s going to come up and break records.”

Stojakovic works in the Kings front office as an assistant general manager supporting Vlade Divac. He’s also taken a vested interest in Hield and worked behind the scenes as a mentor to the 26-year-old shooting.

“He’s just calm and collect and I didn’t see it coming this year, but that’s how God works, when you don’t expect things, it just happens,” Hield said. “He’s been a big part of my success this year and hats off to him. He’s still going to continue to help me grow.”

A notorious trash talker, Hield will likely never let Stojakovic live down him passing his record. And with 10 games remaining in the season, Hield has a chance to push the record considerably higher.

“He finds them. We’re looking for him. He’s getting them up," head coach Dave Joerger said. "We’re happy about it and maybe the best part is, that everyday we all come to the gym, Buddy’s going to give it to Peja from now until never. I couldn’t be happier for him and he deserves to have that big smile that he has. That’s quite an accomplishment.”

Hield finished the game with 25 points and seven rebounds in the win. He knocked down 7-of-14 from deep and now has 245 makes on the year.

Following his record breaker, Bogdanovic fouled Devin Booker in the act of shooting, allowing the game to stop for a moment and the fans to show their appreciation.

Hield received a standing ovation from the Golden 1 Center crowd and then play resumed.

“It’s definitely cool to see what he was able to do for the team this year and to break a record like that,” rookie Marvin Bagley said. “It was definitely cool, to see the reaction of the fans and everything. I was happy for him.”

With the win, the Kings moved back to the .500 mark on the season at 36-36. This is a team that was predicted to win just 25.5 games this year by the Vegas oddsmakers and Hield is a huge reason the Kings were in the playoff race until recently.

“He’s having a terrific year and a large part of our success has been his ability at different points in games when we’re struggling to score, he can just go and create his own offense,” Joerger said.

Hield has another mark to focus on now. With 245 makes this year, he now has 569 makes through his first three season in the league. Damian Lillard owns the NBA record for most makes over the first three seasons of a players career with 599. If Hield continues on his current pace, he has a chance to crest the 600 mark.

Kings takeaways: What we learned from Kings' strong win over Suns

Kings takeaways: What we learned from Kings' strong win over Suns

BOX SCORE

SACRAMENTO -- Needing a victory to finish the road trip strong and move back to .500 on the season, the Kings struggled with their shot and it almost cost them.

A big finish by rookie Marvin Bagley gave Sacramento some breathing room late, and an emphatic windmill dunk from De’Aaron Fox put the Phoenix Suns away.

Devin Booker put up a game-high 32-points and 10 assists and Deandre Ayton notched a double-double, but it wasn’t enough to shift the outcome in the Suns direction.

Here are three takeaways as the Kings pick up the 112-103 win to move to 36-36 on the season. 

Record Breaker

Buddy Hield loves to shoot the 3-ball. He loves it so much, he set a record doing it Saturday evening at Golden 1 Center.

Hield came into the night trailing Peja Stojakovic by two 3-pointer for the Kings’ all-time record for most makes in a single season. It took him just five seconds to knockdown his first triple and then he hit a pair in the second quarter to surpass the Kings legend.

Sacramento’s leading scorer didn’t stop there. He finished the night 7-for-14 from long range for 25 points on the evening.

The starting forwards

Harrison Barnes and Nemanja Bjelica are starting to figure out how to play together. Against the Suns, they both made major contributions.

Barnes got hot from long range, hitting 5-of-8 from behind the arc for 25 points. He added six rebounds and was responsible for slowing Booker for stretches.

Bjelica always seems to be in the right place at the right time. He struggles with quickler fours, but he seems to find a way to help the team. The veteran finished the evening with 13 points, a career-high 17 rebounds and five assists on the evening. 

Shooting woes

Sacramento pulled out the win, but it wasn’t easy. A big reason why was because of their shooting percentage. 

Bogdan Bogdanovic went 2-of-11 from the floor, with both makes coming from 3-point range.  Fox hit just 3-of-12, although he still managed to score 13 points and dish out nine assists.

As a team, the Kings recovered late to shoot 42.4 percent on the evening. They let the Suns hang around and it almost cost them.