Buddy Hield probably still is running. The team will meet him Monday morning in Brooklyn when the Kings face the Nets as part of the NBA's Martin Luther King Jr. Day festivities.
After drilling a buzzer-beating 3-pointer Saturday night to give the Kings an improbable 103-101 win over the Detroit Pistons, the Bahamian Bomber made a victory lap around Little Caesars Arena and disappeared through the tunnel.
It was as big a shot as it gets. Hield’s heroics saved the Kings from an 0-2 start on their season-long six-game road trip and sent the Pistons away salty.
“I’m so happy for him and our whole crew,” Kings coach Dave Joerger told NBC Sports California via text after the win.
The Kings have become known for their big shots late in games. Willie Cauley-Stein hit a game-winner earlier this season, as did Bogdan Bogdanovic. This was the first one of his NBA career for Hield, who finished with a team-high 35 points on 7-of-9 shooting from behind the arc.
“I’m blessed,” Hield told reporters after the game. “I can say I got one in the NBA at the highest level. It’s fun, man. As a kid, you always dream of hitting one of those types of shots, especially at a high level like this. It’s something I’ll cherish for the rest of my life.”
It was the shot that almost wasn’t. Hield bobbled the inbound pass. He even thought of firing the ball to center Willie Cauley-Stein, who was open on the play. But Hield stepped through a group of defenders and found a wide-open look at the basket.
“It slipped, but I was able to regain it, and after that was able to split three guys, and I put it up in the air,” Hield said with a smile. “It’s all she wrote after that. It went in.”
The shooting guard carried the scoring early for Sacramento, with 20 points on 8-of-9 shooting from the field in the first half. He vanished in the third quarter, missing all three of his shots from the field.
Joerger started the fourth quarter with his second unit. With 6:53 remaining in the final frame and his team trailing by 10, the Kings coach turned to Hield and his starters to make one last run.
“We hung in there long enough with our defense to make it close at the end,” Joerger said. “Buddy gets it going.”
The sharpshooter responded with an incredible 15 points down the stretch, hitting 5 of 10 from the field and a perfect 4 for 4 from downtown.
“He was hot,” backcourt mate De’Aaron Fox said. "You saw the ball go in a lot today, and I had no doubt it was going in."
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It was a huge win for the Kings. After battling through a three game homestand to hit the road with a three-game win streak, Sacramento fell apart in Charlotte. Another loss would have been tough to take, and it would have dropped the Kings (24-22) back to .500 on the season.
Instead, they stole some momentum and put a smile on everyone’s face.
Sacramento doesn’t have long to bask in the glow of victory, though. Monday’s game in Brooklyn marks the halfway point of the trip, and the Kings will face a difficult end of a back-to-back Tuesday night against the Raptors in Toronto.