SACRAMENTO -- You can’t please everyone. That goes for players vying for minutes, and it sometimes also means the fans.
In the Kings’ 118-113 loss to the Toronto Raptors on Sunday night, one fan, in particular, took exception to Kings coach Luke Walton’s rotations. Specifically, Walton's decision not to put Buddy Hield back in the game late in the fourth quarter.
You could hear the fan berate Walton on NBC Sports California's telecast, calling for Hield to return to the court.
One Kings fan let Luke Walton know he wasn't happy to see Buddy on the bench 😬 pic.twitter.com/iQzKB9kweJ— Kings on NBCS (@NBCSKings) March 9, 2020
“You have the 3-point champion right there,” the fan screamed.
He then broke into a “Where is Buddy? Where is Buddy?” chant that at least one other fan jumped in on.
Walton was asked following the loss about his decision to not play Hield in the final 12 minutes of the game, including the final 13.7 seconds when the Kings were trailing by three points with the ball.
“We were scoring, we really were scoring on every play, we scored 39 points in the third quarter,” Walton said Sunday. “You score 39 in a close game, and you’re doing enough to win offensively. Buddy, I thought was playing a good game and we were going to get him back in there, and then Bogi (Bogdan Bogdanovic), he started really turning it on and then that group that was out there was really in a good rhythm. So, we stuck with them.”
“Multiple guys made good plays,” Walton added. “Fox stepped up, hit free throws, hit threes. Bogi hit some. Bjeli’s (Nemanja Bjelica) hit game winners for us before. So, we have faith in all our guys and I’ve said before that when a group is rolling, we’re going to stay with them. And you score 39 points in a quarter, then we’re most likely going to stay with that group.”
Luke Walton on his decision to bench Buddy at the end of tonight’s game. pic.twitter.com/u6WNoZxaZo— Kings on NBCS (@NBCSKings) March 9, 2020
Bjelica missed a 28-footer that could have tied the game with 9.6 seconds remaining. Norman Powell rebounded the ball, and Bogdanovic immediately fouled him. Powell hit both free throws, which put the Raptors up five with 6.1 seconds remaining and the game out of reach.
Hield played 24 minutes for the Kings, finishing with 11 points on 4-of-12 shooting, including 3-for-8 from 3-point range. He added five rebounds, an assist, a steal and had two turnovers during his time on the court.
Walton chose to ride with the players who had tied the game and took the lead over the Raptors on multiple occasions during the fourth quarter. Hield struggled in his nine-minute stretch in the third quarter, going scoreless on three shot attempts and turning the ball over twice.
Hield won the NBA’s 3-point Contest at All-Star Weekend in February, and he is also shooting the second-highest 3-point percentage on the Kings this season (39.5 percent). Bjelica leads the team at 43 percent.
The 27-year-old has had a slow start to March. In five games, he's averaging 18.2 points per game on 47.8 percent shooting from beyond the arc, but he has played just under 25 minutes per night. That's well off his high of just over 35 minutes per game in December.
Whether the decision ultimately cost the Kings a win or not is unknown. Hield refused to speak to the media following Sunday's loss.