Kings

Kings takeaways: What we learned in 127-116 loss to Trail Blazers

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Kings takeaways: What we learned in 127-116 loss to Trail Blazers

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PORTLAND -- Short-handed and overmatched, the Sacramento Kings competed well, but came up empty Wednesday evening against the Portland Trail Blazers.

Bogdan Bogdanovic missed the game with a right knee contusion, leaving the Kings without three of their top six rotational players. The reserves fought the good fight, but in the end, they ran out of gas, falling by a final of 127-116 for the 12th straight loss at the Moda Center.  

Here are three takeaways as the Kings made it a game in Portland, but fell to 8-12 on the season.  

Battle at the five

Richaun Holmes and Hassan Whiteside went to war in the post. 

Holmes finished with a career-high 28 points on 11-for-14 shooting. He added 10 rebounds to pick up his seven double-double of the season. 

Whiteside pounded his former team with 22 points on 8-for-10 shooting and chipped in 16 rebounds, seven assists and three blocks. 

While neither was able to slow the other, it was an entertaining matchup between two highly efficient bigs. 

Advantage: Holmes

Battle at the two

While Holmes and Whiteside were duking it out in the post, a couple of guards caught fire from long range.

Buddy Hield struggled early, going 1-of-7 to open the night. He shot his way out of the slump in the first quarter, finishing the first 12 minutes with 14 points on 6-for-13 shooting. 

Hield kept scoring throughout the night, dropping in 23 points to go with seven assists, six rebounds and a pair of steals.

On the Portland side, CJ McCollum had a huge game. The Blazers starting shooting guard dropped in 33 points on 14-for-22 shooting and all of his career-high four blocks came against Hield in the first half.

Advantage: McCollum

Team effort

The Kings are beat up. De’Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley continue to miss games, but against Portland, they were without Bogdan Bogdanovic as well. 

While it came in a losing effort, Yogi Ferrell, Nemanja Bjelica and Trevor Ariza were all impactful when they stepped on the floor. 

Ferrell was an offensive spark plug, scoring 13 points on 5-for-7 shooting off the bench. 

In his second game back with the team after an extended absence, Ariza added 11 points, six rebounds and two blocks. 

Bjelica stuffed the stat sheet with 17 points, seven rebounds, four assists, two blocks and a steal.

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.