By Charlie O. Mallonee
The Kings began their longest road trip of the year on Thursday night with a disappointing 114-95 loss in Charlotte. That was a game that should have gone in the win column for the Kings on this six-city road swing.
Sacramento had the table set for them on Saturday night going into the game. The Pistons were playing the second game of a back-to-back set after having played the Miami Heat on Friday night. Detroit also lost center Andre Drummond in the first quarter of the Miami game when an arm in the face caused a nasal injury that would also keep him out of the game versus the Kings.
This was a snoozer for three quarters
In fact, you could make the case that this game was a sleep inducer for 44 minutes. After 36 minutes, the Pistons held an 82-74 lead over the Kings. Detroit was controlling the pace. Blake Griffin was leading the scoring for the Pistons and Luke Kennard was sinking 3-pointers with ease.
The Kings were just hanging on in the game. They were allowing the Pistons to set a slow-down pace. SAC was shooting poorly (26.3%) from downtown, and they were allowing Detroit to outrebound them. The Kings seemed satisfied to trail the Pistons by 10 points.
At the end of three quarters, things did not look good for Sacramento fans.
Welcome to the “Buddy Buckets Show”
Buddy Hield scored 20 points in the first half of the game on Saturday night. He played the entire third quarter and scored no points while shooting 0-for-3 from the field. Things looked grim indeed for the men from Sacramento.
Hield scored his first points of the second half with 3:26 to go in the game. He hit a 27-foot 3-point jump shot set up by an assist from Iman Shumpert. That cut the Detroit lead to four points.
After a Pistons miss, Hield promptly cut the Pistons lead to one after he hit another 27-foot 3-point bucket.
Hield went on to hit a 17-foot field goal, a free throw, and another 3-point basket during his 12-point blitz.
The Kings regained control of the ball with 3.4-seconds to go in the game when they grabbed the rebound off of Reggie Jackson’s missed jump shot. Sacramento called an immediate timeout in order to be able to inbound the ball in the frontcourt.
Bogdan Bogdanovic inbounded the ball to Hield. Hield, who was surrounded by three Piston defenders, lost control of the ball but was able to regain control. He turned and jumped off one leg then shot a 28-foot 3-point shot that went through the bucket at the buzzer to give the Kings the win.
Sacramento escaped the Little Caesar’s Arena with a 103-101 win over the stunned Detroit Pistons.
“(It was) my first buzzer beater in the NBA,” said Hield after the game. “It was one of those things as a kid you wanted to do and you want to cherish. I hope I have many more to come.”
Kings’ numbers on the night (24-22)
Hield was the Kings leading scorer with 35 points. He shot 13-for-22 overall and hit 7-of-9 from behind the arc. Hield also grabbed nine rebounds (3 OR).
Dave Joerger was full of praise for Buddy after the game, but he also wanted to point out the performances of some of his other players. “De’Aaron Fox had a terrific game even though he didn’t shoot the basketball (well). Iman Shumpert had a really nice night defensively. Marvin Bagley fought like crazy. Harry (Giles) fought like crazy. Those guys are getting better. It’s a great learning experience trying to learn. They’re learning it doesn’t take losses to learn.” Joerger also added that he thought, “Willie Cauley-Stein was solid tonight.”
- De’Aaron Fox had a double-double, scoring 14 points and dishing out 10 dimes
- Marvin Bagley III put in 14 points–many with Blake Griffin in his face
- Willie Cauley-Stein added 12 points and six rebounds
- Bogdanovic and Giles scored eight points apiece
SAC team stats
- The Kings hit 40-of-89 (44.9%) of their field goals in the game
- They put in 10-of-25 (40%) of their 3-point attempts, thanks to Hield’s fourth quarter blitz
- SAC converted 13-of-18 (72.2%) free throw attempts
- They were outrebounded 46-39
- Sacramento recorded 30 assists and made just 13 turnovers, which resulted in 17 Detroit points
Detroit by the numbers (20-25)
- Blake Griffin was the game’s leading scorer with 38 points. He was also the game’s leading complainer as he had something to say to the officials after every play. He was especially boorish to referee Natalie Sago.
- Luke Kennard put in 19 points off the bench.
- Zaza Pachulla hauled in 12 rebounds
- Bruce Brown recorded a career-high 10 rebounds
The Kings left the Motor City after the game for New York City. SAC will play the Brooklyn Nets (24-23) on Monday afternoon at 12:30 PM PST. The game can be seen on NBCSCA and heard on the Kings Radio Network.
The Pistons also play on Martin Luther King Day as they will be in Washington to take on the Wizards.