Buddy Hield

NBA Last Two Minute report confirms gaffe in Kings' win vs. Grizzlies

NBA Last Two Minute report confirms gaffe in Kings' win vs. Grizzlies

Every once in a while, an NBA game lasts longer than it should. That was the case Thursday night in the Kings’ 129-125 win over the Memphis Grizzlies.

The game lasted two hours and 29 minutes, but it felt much longer -- especially in the fourth quarter. With the Grizzlies fouling the Kings on almost every possession to stop the clock, the final period lasted 49 minutes.

It’s not often you see the final 22.1 seconds of a game take up an entire page in the official game book.

Part of the problem was the Grizzlies wouldn’t stop playing, even after falling behind big in both the third and fourth quarters. A secondary issue was the officiating, which showed up in the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report on Friday.

The first questionable call came with 15.6 seconds remaining in regulation and the Kings leading 122-116. Sacramento Kent Bazemore closed out on De’Anthony Melton in the left corner, and Bazemore was called for a shooting foul, sending Melton to the line for three free throws. 

Thursday's officiating crew of Tony Brothers, Bill Kennedy and Mitchell Ervin made an incorrect call, according to the report. 

“Bazemore (SAC) makes incidental high-five contact with Melton's (MEM) hand after the release of his jump shot attempt and does not affect his ability to follow-through naturally,” the report said.

That decision gave the Grizzlies life. Melton knocked down all three free throws to cut the Kings’ lead to three.

The Kings' lead was down to just four points 8.1 seconds later when Harrison Barnes reached in on Melton on the perimeter. Melton had the ball near the ground and, after Barnes made contact, the second-year pro shot the ball and was given another three free throws.

According to the league, Brothers, who blew the whistle, got it right.

“Barnes (SAC) makes contact across Melton's (MEM) left hand/wrist at the start of his upward shooting motion," the report said. "The contact occurs prior to Barnes making any contact with the ball.”

Once again, Melton stepped to the line and knocked down all three freebies to cut the Kings’ lead to just one a point with 7.5 seconds remaining.

While the NBA confirmed the call, the touch and the call for continuation were both highly questionable.

Memphis then quickly fouled Buddy Hield, who knocked down a pair from the charity stripe. With 3.7 seconds remaining in regulation, Sacramento's Cory Joseph fouled Memphis rookie Ja Morant before he could get into his shooting motion. Morant hit his first free throw and was called for a lane violation on his second attempt.

Hield finished off the game with another pair of free throws and the Kings escaped with the win.

The officiating didn’t change the outcome of the game, but very well could have. It was another lesson for the Kings, although they still figured out a way to win.

[RELATED: Hield's heroics save Kings from near soul-crushing defeat]

The Kings are a frequent flyer on the league’s Two Minute Report. Thursday was Sacramento's 24th game this season decided by five points or fewer.

The Grizzlies and Kings play one more time this season. Sacramento should be prepared to play out the entire 48 minutes because Memphis doesn't stop until the final whistle.

Buddy Hield saves Kings from mistakes in must-win game vs. Grizzlies

Buddy Hield saves Kings from mistakes in must-win game vs. Grizzlies

SACRAMENTO -- In the words of Kings shooting guard and NBA 3-point Champion Buddy Hield, “It be like that sometimes.”

It’s a catch-all phrase that seems to make sense in almost any situation for Sacramento this season.

Blow an 18-point third-quarter lead?

“It be like that sometimes.”

Two fouls by veterans players on 3-point attempts in the final 15.9 seconds?

“It be like that sometimes.”

Hield making six free throws in the final 15.2 seconds of a must-win game, including one that looked like it wanted to hop out?

“It be like that sometimes.”

Coming out of the All-Star break, the Kings have the slimmest hope of climbing back into the postseason chase. A win over the Grizzlies on Thursday and the Kings could climb to within six games of the eighth seed with 27 games remaining.

But a loss at home to Memphis would likely have been a death blow to their chances and put them eight games out of the race.

It wasn’t pretty and it took nearly 2 1/2 hours to work out the details, but the Kings survived a late barrage from the Grizzlies to come away with a 129-125 win. 

A big fourth quarter from rookie Ja Morant and some timely scoring from De’Anthony Melton helped the Grizzlies make a game of it.

With 27.7 seconds remaining, the Kings took a nine-point lead. 20.2 seconds later, the lead was down to one. Missed free throws, inexplicable fouls and defensive lapses by the Kings opened a door for the Grizzlies.

Hield’s heroics at the line were the only thing standing between the Kings and a horribly embarrassing, soul-crushing loss.

“As a team, I don’t think anyone’s going up there being nervous,” De’Aaron Fox said. “Sometimes we just haven’t been making them and Buddy came in and saved us tonight.”

Fox, who scored 26 for the game, missed four out of six free throws in the fourth. Three of those misses came as the Grizzlies were surging in the final minute.

Harry Giles, an 81-percent shooter from the stripe, hit one of two from the line in the final 30 seconds, as well. For a moment, it felt like the walls were closing on the Kings.

Compounding the misses at the line, Harrison Barnes and Kent Bazemore both fouled 3-point shooters in a span of eight seconds inside of 16 seconds left to play. Barnes’ foul was highly questionable and likely will be a late addition to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report on Friday.

In the end, the Kings held on for the win, but those mistakes aren’t something that can be repeated when the margin for error is so slim.

“Collectively, the little details, our communication, our rebounding, things like that, even as you saw tonight, there’s a lot of room for improvement,” Barnes said following the game.

The Kings know what the standings look like and they know how important every game is at this point in the season.

“We just got to chip away, lock in extra hard at this point because every game is critical,” Giles said. “Every game is always critical, but we put ourselves in a position where we can’t really afford to lose games.”

While mistakes were made, there were also plenty of positives. Barnes hit his first seven 3-point attempts and finished with a season-high 32 points. Bazemore was a force on both ends of the court, scoring 18 points in 23 minutes of action.

Fox was aggressive on the defensive end and outplayed Morant, and Giles made three tremendous, game-altering defensive plays late before picking up his sixth foul. His two blocks and a charge drew “Harry, Harry, Harry!” chants from the crowd.

“Three stops wins the game,” Giles said. “That’s what we do in practice and stuff and I just try to translate that.”

It could have been an easier win, but the Grizzlies are 28-27 on the season for a reason. They play hard for 48 minutes, much like the Kings did last year when they won a shocking 39 games.

[RELATED: Bagley sees foot specialist, out at least three more weeks]

Sacramento is focused on one game at a time. The team knows that it’s too early or maybe too late to talk about the playoffs, but it is trying to finish the season strong. Despite all of the craziness in the closing minutes, the Kings found a way to beat the Grizzlies in a must-win game.

“It be like that sometimes.”

For Kings' De'Aaron Fox, NBA All-Star break was just what doctor ordered

For Kings' De'Aaron Fox, NBA All-Star break was just what doctor ordered

SACRAMENTO -- The NBA All-Star break is the last major milestone in the regular season before the mad dash to the finish line. It’s also a time for both mental and physical recovery, which was much needed for the Kings.

Buddy Hield went to Chicago to win the NBA's 3-point title. Cory Joseph made a visit to Maui and coach Luke Walton spent the weekend in Cabo with his wife. De’Aaron Fox took some time to heal up.

Coming off the best month of his career in January, Fox limped into the break. Following the team’s getaway game in Dallas, he was seen icing his left ankle that he injured early in the season. The issue caught the eye of at least one national writer.

According to ESPN’s Marc Spears: “Keep an eye on point guard De'Aaron Fox, who is still trying to recover from an early season ankle injury. The All-Star break came at a much-needed time for Fox. The third-year point guard is having issues with tightness in his ankle when he sits for long stretches during games, a source told ESPN.”

A league source confirmed to NBC Sports California that Fox’s ankle is nothing more than “normal grind of a long season.” The week away was just what the doctor ordered.

Fox originally injured his left ankle during practice on Nov. 11. He missed 17 games with a Grade 3 sprain, but came back much faster than originally predicted.

Following practice on Wednesday, Walton said he noticed that the time off might have done Fox some good.

“He looked really good yesterday and today, looks like he’s moving better,” Walton said. “He has some of that bounce back. The break, I think was great for everyone, including De’Aaron.”

[RELATED: Parker expects to make Kings debut against Grizzlies]

Fox is having another breakout season for the Kings. He went into the break averaging a career-best 19.7 points to go with seven assists and 4.2 rebounds in 31.5 minutes per game.

If the Kings have any chance of making a late run, they need their starting point guard healthy and ready to play a major role.