Kings

Kings players show gratitude, reverence for Dwyane Wade in win over Heat

Kings players show gratitude, reverence for Dwyane Wade in win over Heat

SACRAMENTO -- Minutes before the game between the Kings and Heat started, the massive scoreboard that hangs over the Golden 1 Center court flashed to a live view of future Hall of Famer Dwyane Wade sitting on the sideline.

Knowing it was his last game in town, a sold-out Sacramento crowd gave the 37-year-old star a huge ovation.

Once the ball was tipped, the Kings weren’t so nice. Wade took a monster spill in the first quarter and bounced his head off the floor. After a stint in the locker room, he returned to the game and looked like the Wade of old, dropping 11 points on the Kings in less than five minutes before the half.

The Kings tightened their defense in the second half, limiting the 12-time All-Star to just four points after the break and handing the Heat a 102-96 loss.

Following the game, it was a hugs and autographs for Kings players, many of which grew up idolizing the three-time NBA Champion.

“He’s a Hall of Famer, he’s a legend, he’s a hero,” Buddy Hield said. “He inspired many kids, from when I was a little boy. I can’t lie and say I wasn’t in the driveway shooting Dwyane Wade fadeaways and that rocker step he had and he’s always explosive. He won’t be forgotten.”

Hield was a big reason the Kings pulled out the win. He finished with a game-high 23 points, including seven in the final 6:46 of the game to help seal the win.

Despite pinning a loss on Miami, Wade gave Hield one of his signed shoes with a personalized message -- “To: Buddy, Loved watching you play since college. Keep going.”

Bogdan Bogdanovic received the other shoe and all he could say afterwards was, “legend” when asked about Wade. The personalized sneaker for the Kings’ second-year guard came with some encouraging words.

“To: Bogdan, love your game and the confidence you play with.”

While no one was quite sure how it happened, Frank Mason was able to land the prized possession -- Wade’s game-used jersey.

[RELATED: Welcome to Sacramento! Kings introduce three new players]

It was a different feel to the evening. The Kings were adjusting to new teammates and slightly overwhelmed by Wade’s final visit. But in the end, they were able to stabilize down the stretch and come away with another big win on their home floor.

Kings quartet looks to make big splash at 2019 NBA All-Star Weekend

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AP

Kings quartet looks to make big splash at 2019 NBA All-Star Weekend

The Sacramento Kings are taking over Charlotte, N.C. for the weekend. Four players from the team’s young core are taking part of the All-Star festivities.

De’Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley will suit up as part of the U.S. Team in the Rising Stars Challenge, which is scheduled for Friday evening at 6 p.m. PST. They’ll face off against teammate Bogdan Bogdanovic, who is looking to defend his MVP title from last season’s Rising Stars win as a member of the World Team.

For Fox and Bogdanovic, they’ve been there before. While they appreciate the honor, it doesn’t have the same freshness that it does for Bagley, who grew up going to All-Star weekend with his family.

“Now to actually be a part of it and play in it and kind of see it from a different point of view now that I’m in NBA, it should be exciting,” Bagley said. “I can’t wait to get down there and experience it and have a lot of fun.”

Bogdanovic has joked in the past about his place in the game. At 26-years-old, he’s been a professional basketball player for years. Being considered a “rising star” is bit confusing for the Serbian-born wing.

In his second NBA season, Fox has his sights set on being a fixture for the annual showcase. While he appreciates the honor of participating in the Rising Stars, he’s just looking to have a good time, not stress over taking home any hardware from the event.

“I don’t care, I go out there and just play,” Fox said earlier in the week. “Of course you’re trying to win.”

In addition to his Rising Stars duties, Fox will also participate in the Skills Challenge, where is a 5-2 favorite to win.

It’s the first event on Saturday evening with a start time of 5 p.m. PST and he’ll compete against Luka Doncic, Jayson Tatum, Trae Young, Kyle Kuzma, Nikola Jokic, Nikola Vucevic and Mike Conley.  

“He has obviously a great chance,” Bogdanovic said. “He’s the fastest player in the league and on that challenge. He’s just got to make the shots and that’s it. Easy win for him.”

Fox’s starting backcourt mate, Buddy Hield, agreed with Bogdanovic’s assessment.

“He’s built for it - his quickness, his passing ability, all he has to do is make the shot and he’ll be fine,” Hield said of Fox.

Hield has aged out of the Rising Stars game, but after shooting the lights out in the first half of the season, the third-year guard will participate in the 3-point shootout against a crowded field of some of the game’s great marksmen.

“I think he can shoot with the best of them, especially if he gets hot,” Fox said Hield. “The rest of those guys can shoot, but Buddy belongs. He definitely belongs in that conversation.”

Hield is having a breakout season for Sacramento, averaging 20.5 points and 5.1 rebounds in 31.6 minutes per game. He currently ranks four in the NBA in 3-point percentage at 44.9 percent and only James Harden, Steph Curry and Paul George have hit more triples than Hield this season.

“I’m a big competitor, if I go out there, I might get 30 a couple of times,” Hield said. “But when it comes to All-Star Game, it’s different with anxiety and momentum and everything.”

The 3-Point Contest is the second event on Saturday evening. Hield will compete against Devin Booker, Danny Green, Joe Harris, Damian Lillard, Khris Middleton, Dirk Nowitzki, Kemba Walker and brothers Seth and Steph Curry.

[RELATED: Steph Curry predicts he'll beat Seth, win 2019 NBA 3-Point Contest]

Hield received a huge endorsement as a dark horse in the competition from the Warriors’ Klay Thompson, who took home the trophy in the event in 2016.

Odds makers give Hield the second-best chance of winning the event, behind 2015 champ, Steph Curry.

“I don’t care what Vegas said.” Hield said. “I always bet on myself, no matter what."

The quartet of Kings will return to Sacramento early next week. They’ll have a day to prepare for the final 25 games of the season beginning next Thursday’s big matchup against the Golden State Warriors.

NBA Power Rankings 2019: Standing of every team at All-Star break

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USATSI

NBA Power Rankings 2019: Standing of every team at All-Star break

Welcome to another week of Power Rankings! We’re nearing the home stretch and very little is decided outside of the Warriors dominance.

There are surprising teams and some major disappointments. One of the biggest surprises is in Sacramento. 

Nobody expected the Kings to be in playoff contention. But at 30-27, the young squad is just one game back of the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference with 25 games to go. 

[RELATED: De'Aaron Fox sends message on potential Kings-Warriors playoff series]

Here is where the league stands heading into the All-Star break:

VIEW THE POWER RANKINGS HERE