All three Bahamian National Basketball Association (NBA) players opened their 2021 preseason on Monday night for their respective teams.
Kai Jones got the ball rolling in the early games when his Charlotte Hornets took down the Oklahoma City Thunder 113-97 on the road at the Paycom Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. In a late night game, Chavano “Buddy” Hield and the Sacramento Kings took down fellow Bahamian DeAndre Ayton and the Phoenix Suns 117-106.
Playing in front of the home fans at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California, Hield came off the bench in a surprising move and played 23 minutes, coming away with 14 points. He shot 5-for-15 from the field including 4-for-13 from the
three-point line. He also had four rebounds and four assists.
Ayton played all 12 of his minutes in the first quarter but made the most out of it. The starting center finished with eight points on 4-for-6 shooting from the field and grabbed three rebounds. He also finished the game with a blocked shot.
Jones played under eight minutes in the win for the Hornets – all came in the final quarter. He helped his team by scoring four points and adding four rebounds. Jones went 2-for-3, shooting 66.7 percent from the field.
Ayton started their game against the Kings on a strong note, making his first two attempts that included a cutting slam dunk and a layup. His layup came at the 6:38 mark of the first quarter to cut into the Kings’ lead, trimming it to one point, 12-11. Hield checked into the game for the first time 21 seconds before Ayton’s made field goal. The three-point specialist got on the scoreboard at the 4:38 mark with a shot from deep. That shot put his team up 19-13.
Ayton was able to make a 14-foot jump shot with five seconds remaining in the first quarter as he scored his seventh and eighth points of the night. He took the rest of the night off. The score was 27-23 at that point with Hield’s squad holding the advantage. At the end of the quarter, the Kings led 30-23.
Hield did most of his damage in the third quarter when he went 3-for-5 from the field. He connected on two three-pointers and a pull-up jump shot. His final made shot of the night was a three-point shot that came with 55 seconds remaining in the third quarter. He helped his team to an 88-71 lead at that point. They played a strong fourth quarter and held on for the victory.
The Kings were led by Harrison Barnes with 18 points. Landry Shamet and Jalen Smith led the way for the Suns with 13 points each.
Jones and the Hornets had a dominant game over the Thunder as they led by as much as 25 points. There was only one lead change on the night. The rookie entered the game at the start of the fourth quarter with his team up 91-71. He got his first bucket with 52.6 seconds left in the game when he made a pull-up jumper as the Hornets led 111-94 in garbage time. His final basket of the night, a dunk, came with 29 seconds left in the game. They held on to secure the victory in their preseason opener.
Hornets’ rookie James Bouknight led all scorers with 20 points. Josh Giddey led the Thunder with 18 points.
Preseason action continues for the Bahamians tonight when Ayton and the Suns take on the Los Angeles Lakers at 6 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST) in a home game at the Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona. The game will be televised on NBA TV.
The Kings have a late-night matchup on the road against the Los Angeles Clippers at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, tonight. That games gets underway at 10 p.m.
Jones and the Hornets are off today and return to action tomorrow when they welcome the Memphis Grizzlies to the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. The game starts at 7 p.m.