Well, we can at least say the Kings are making it interesting.
For whatever particular reason, Buddy Hield got the start at shooting guard for the Sacramento Kings tonight vs. the Washington Wizards. 30+ minutes of starting Buddy is precisely the kind of wrinkle necessary to enjoy sitting through a mostly meaningless Kings game in March that didn’t start until 10:30 pm et on a Friday night. I appreciate you, Dave Joerger.
Hield looked comfortable in that first-option role right from the tip. He was scoring in a variety of ways, and watching Hield share the backcourt with Darren Collison looked pretty dynamic. We’ve praised Ty Lawson for his play all season, but there is just something different about having two legitimate shooting threats in the backcourt. Buddy and Collison showed you why. The Kings got a lot of early action based on the threat they both pose from three. It opened up a lot of driving lanes and easy dump-offs to Willie and Kosta. Good stuff.
It wasn’t all positive for Buddy. He had a few careless defensive possessions, and for whatever reason continues to struggle with his hands. He has a decent handle, but he’s very loose with the ball. It doesn’t require much to take him out of his move, and where the ball ends up after that is anyones guess.
Hield dropped thirteen points in the first quarter alone, so my critique here is very light. He was was quite good in the first half. The second half? not so much.
With Tyreke Evans missing this game due to a bout of scheduled rest and Hield moving to the starting unit, I was expecting a pretty significant offensive dropoff once the second unit checked in. To their credit, they not only matched the starters’ effort, but they extended the lead with excellent passing and impressive shooting from the perimeter. Everyone who checked into this game in the first half played well. Every single guy.
The third quarter featured a lot more Kosta Koufos post ups and a lot less ball movement. The Wizards picked up their play by a level or two, but the Kings just did not surrender the lead like you were expecting. In my notes I have ‘how are the Kings still up by double-digits?’ and ‘Anthony Tolliver carried the offense’ written down for the third quarter, and that would have covered it if the Kings didn’t go on a 13-4 run of transition buckets to close the third. Rough start, strong finish, and a 15-point Kings lead heading into the fourth.
The fourth quarter was a spectacular mess. Dave Joerger rode his veterans plus Willie Cauley-Stein and Buddy Hield for most of the fourth, and before you knew it the 15-point lead was gone. The Kings and Wizards traded buckets throughout crunch time, and for a team that has struggled to get good offense at the end of games, Collison and Cauley-Stein ran a few different actions all resulting in incredible open Cauley-Stein buckets inside. The Wizards had the final shot in regulation with the game tied, but the Kings’ defense held strong. Overtime.
I wish I had something informative to say about overtime, but it wasn’t particularly well-player or exciting. The Wizards hit a few shots, the Kings ran a lot of stuff for Arron Afflalo with no avail, and there is your ballgame. Wizards win 130-122. Washington kind of stole this one, but I’m not calling the authorities. They can have it.
You can categorize this loss under things I would be upset about if winning was the goal. I’m fine with the loss. It was a good effort with my biggest gripe being Skal Labissiere only played 14 minutes, but I’m not going to lose any (more) sleep over that tonight.