The losing streak is over.
After dropping their previous six games, the Sacramento Kings stepped up Friday night at United Center in Chicago, beating the Bulls by a final of 98-81.
Coach Luke Walton made a lineup change, benching Buddy Hield for Bogdan Bogdanovic. The move had the desired effect. Spacing looked better with Bogdanovic playing with the first team and Hield went crazy off the bench.
Zach LaVine led the way with 21 points for a shorthanded Bulls team, but it wasn’t nearly enough.
Here are three takeaways as the Kings finally snap out of their funk to and improve to 16-29 on the season.
For the first time in 126 games, Hield was relegated to the second unit for the Kings. He didn’t pout and he didn’t become a problem. In fact, he excelled.
With the starters struggling coming out of the half, Walton turned to his leading scorer early in the third and he caught fire.
Hustle play leads to a three 💦 pic.twitter.com/Nf7XV5GLve— Kings on NBCS (@NBCSKings) January 25, 2020
Hield scored 11 of his team-high 21 points in the 12 minutes following the intermission. He hit 5-for-9 from behind the arc and added eight rebounds in the win.
Whether it’s off the bench or with the starting unit, this is the Buddy Hield the Kings need every game.
Having a moment
Harry Giles has been in and out of the rotation all season long. With both Richaun Holmes and Marvin Bagley sidelined, the second-year big got a shot and made the most of it.
The Kings ran the ball through Giles with the second unit and he made a huge impact early. He dished out four assists in the first half and went up for one of the Kings’ biggest blocks of the year.
GILES REJECTION 🖐 pic.twitter.com/g55xqtpHCJ— Kings on NBCS (@NBCSKings) January 25, 2020
Giles was so good in his first stint that Walton kept going back for more. He finished the game with a modest two points, six assists and two blocks. More importantly, he ran a -plus8 in the Plus-Minus category and helped lead the Kings to victory.
The Kings’ defense has been a hot mess during their losing streak. They allowed 122.7 points per game during the streak, including three games where they gave up 127 points.
Chicago isn’t exactly a scoring juggernaut, but the Kings played extremely well on the defensive end, giving up just 81 points to Bulls. In the fourth quarter, Sacramento held the home team to just 12 points, as they pulled away.
Walton’s group isn’t exactly built to lock teams down, but they have enough talent on the defensive end to make life difficult for teams. The Kings were active and they limited their personal fouls, which is a big reason why they came away with the win.