Buddy Hield came into Monday night in a shooting slump. He’d hit just 5-of-22 from behind the arc over his previous three games and he certainly didn’t look like himself.
Hield is a shooter. It often only takes one ball going through the net to get him going and that is exactly what happened Monday evening in Boston.
The Kings shooting guard started slow and then went crazy versus the Celtics, scoring a career-high 41 points at TD Garden.
“He got his rhythm going,” coach Luke Walton told reporters following the Kings' 103-102 loss to the Celtics. “Buddy’s an incredible shooter and we as a team know that when he’s hot, lets find him. You’ve got to give his teammates credit too.”
Thirty-three of Hield’s points came behind the 3-point line where he set a new franchise record with 11 makes from long range.
“Thank God for this opportunity, it’s a great opportunity, great career-high, 11 threes,” Hield told reporters. “It’s hard to do in this league, never discredit that. I’ll have another crack at it and hopefully I’ll get a ‘W’.”
While Hield was on fire, his team fell at the buzzer. Hield was a decoy on the final possession, with Bogdan Bodganovic launching a well defended triple that went off line in the final moments.
Scoring is nice, but winning is the main focus this season for both Hield and the Kings. The 26-year-old guard was upset after the game that his team fell to 7-9 on the season after having a shot to climb back into the playoff picture with a win.
“I felt pissed off,” Hield said. “We tricked the lead in the second quarter.”
Sacramento held a big first half lead, but Hield is correct. The Kings squandered an 11-point margin in the second quarter and trailed 53-46 going to the half.
Hield woke up coming out of the intermission, dropping 21 of his game-high 41 in the third. He got off to a slow start in the fourth and then sat for a few minutes to charge up. Down the stretch, Walton turned back to his shooter and Hield hit huge shots to finish with nine in the final frame.
The loss was hardly on Hield, but basketball is a team sport. Harrison Barnes played well, scoring 20 points on the evening. Bogdanovic struggled with his shot, but he still managed to finish with 13 points and eight assists.
“To win in this league, it takes a team,” Walton said. “We’re going to keep looking for him, but we need everyone to step up and make plays.”
The Kings are 1-2 on their current four-game East Coast swing. Despite injuries to both Marvin Bagley and De’Aaron Fox, the team is battling back after an 0-5 start to the season and are 7-4 over their last 11 games.
“It’s been great for us, especially without our point guard,” Hield said. “We’re making good strides. We can’t get satisfied. We can’t be too relaxed sometimes. We’ve got to stay locked in and keep getting better. We haven’t done nothing yet. Still not in playoff contention.”
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The loss to Boston stings. The Kings had the ball trailing by one with 5.6 seconds remaining. They didn’t get a good shot in the final possession, but it was another opportunity to gain experience and show that this team plays hard each and every night.
They’ll get a shot to even the road trip on Wednesday evening when they travel to Philadelphia to face the 76ers. Philly is another quality Eastern Conference opponent, but the Kings are playing well and proving they can compete with any team in the league.