So close, yet so far away. The Sacramento Kings have given the Golden State Warriors all they can handle this season, but they continue to come up short.
The Kings rallied late against the Warriors Thursday evening at Oracle Arena and even had a look to push the game to overtime with a last second shot. But like the previous three matchups this season, it wasn't to be.
The 125-123 loss dropped the Kings to two games over the .500 mark at 30-28. Here are the positives and the negatives from the loss.
Highest Highs, Lowest Lows
Buddy Hield couldn't buy a bucket early. He missed his first six 3-point attempts and sat at just 12 points on the night heading into the final minute of the game.
Like so many other times this season, the Kings showed faith in their leading scorer, feeding him down the stretch and running plays to get him open looks.
Hield knocked down a 32-footer in Kevin Durant's face with 19 seconds remaining to cut the Warriors lead to three. After a pair of free throws from Stephen Curry pushed the lead to five, De'Aaron Fox found Hield in the corner where he hit a 23-footer to make it a two point game with 10.3 remaining.
In between these two buckets, coach Dave Joerger had words with Hield on the sidelines. Whether it was shot selection or something different, Joerger wasn't happy.
Coach Joerger and Buddy had an interaction after Buddy made a deep three late in the 4th quarter. pic.twitter.com/9ajKs85yiY— Kings on NBCS (@NBCSKings) February 22, 2019
On the final possession, Joerger ran another play for Hield. He had a look from 28-feet for the win, but passed on it. He took Klay Thompson into the key, but came up short on a 12-foot turnaround.
Hield was extremely emotional after the game. He second guessed his decision, but the thought process behind the play was solid. He saw Marvin Bagley open underneath the rim, which made him pause. He glanced at the clock and didn't want to leave too much time. 6.5 seconds is an eternity in the NBA and for one of the few times this season, Hield couldn't answer the call.
The Bagley Kid
In his first opportunity against the Warriors early in the season, Bagley tore through the Champs for 20 points and 17 rebounds. He even missed a put back at the buzzer that would have won the game.
The 19-year-old big injured his knee five minutes into the second matchup between these two teams and sat out the third game as well.
Healthy and brimming with confidence, Bagley went to work against Golden State on Thursday. After a slow first quarter, he lit the Warriors up for 13 in the second quarter to finish the half with 16 points.
It was more of the same in the second half. The rookie power forward attacked the Warriors front line to finish the night with 28 points and 14 rebounds. He shot 8-of-19 from the field and 11-for-14 from the free throw line.
Bagley forced the action at times, especially against Durant, who finished with a career-high seven blocks. But he is learning and the potential for stardom is there.
Curry is the best shooter in the history of the game. He's the best shooter in the world. He will own every 3-point record when it's all said and done and it's possible they will stand for year.
Against the Kings, Curry caught fire. For the 14th time in his career, he knocked down 10 3-pointers, finishing the night with 36 points on 10-of-16 from behind the arc.
Golden State loves to find the open man, but there were plenty of times when the Kings didn't stick to the greatest shooter in the game. He moves without the ball as well as any player in the league and his release is lightning quick, but Sacramento allowed way too may open looks.
Sacramento lost all four games to the Warriors this season by a total of 12 points. They had an opportunity to beat the champs in all four games and they came up short.
The Warriors are the gold standard of the league. They've won back-to-back championships and three of the last four.
There are no moral victories in the league. The Kings lost all four games.
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"Ain't no participation trophy over here. Just knowing that we can play with the best, I guess, but we don't do no consolation prizes," Fox said after the game.
The losses have left the Kings hungry and that's a good thing.