Both Bahamians in the National Basketball Association (NBA), and their teams, came within a possession of picking up wins around the league on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, on Monday.
Chavano “Buddy” Hield and the Sacramento Kings fell to the Miami Heat in overtime, falling 118-113, at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida; and DeAndre Ayton and the Phoenix Suns lost to the San Antonio Spurs, 120-118, at the Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Arizona.
Both Bahamians played well though. Hield matched his average on the season, scoring 20 points on 7-for-19 shooting but was just 5-for-17 from downtown. He added seven rebounds, seven assists, three steals and two blocks in a strong all-around performance. For the season, Hield is at 20.1, 5.0 and 3.2 in points, rebounds and assists respectively.
The Kings were led by Nemanja Bjelica with 22 points, Hield dropped in 20 and Marvin Bagley III contributed 15. The Heat, who improved to 19-1 at home this season and an impressive 30-13 overall, got a game-high 25 points from Kendrick Nunn and 22 from James Johnson off the bench. Point guard Goran Dragic added 18 points off the bench.
Bam Adebayo made a layup in the waning seconds of regulation for the Heat to tie the game at 105, and Bogdan Bogdanovic missed a 25-foot three-point jumper at the buzzer for the Kings.
Hield had a pair of his five three-pointers in the overtime session, but the Heat hit some timely shots and got clutch free-throw shooting down the stretch from Nunn to seal the win.
The Kings suffered their fifth straight loss and dropped to a 15-28 win-loss record on the season, tied for 13th in the tough Western Conference of the NBA.
Dropping to 18-25 and into the 11th spot in the west was Ayton and the Suns, through no fault of the big man though.
Ayton was fantastic, scoring 25 points on 9-for-14 shooting. He added 12 rebounds for his fourth straight double-double and ninth of the season in just 13 games. For the season, Ayton is averaging 18.2 points, 12.2 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game, more impressive than the numbers of 16.3, 10.3 and 1.8 he put up a year ago when he finished third in voting for the Kia NBA Rookie of the Year Award.
For the fourth straight game, Ayton notched 20 or more points, and he had 25 or more for the third straight outing. The former matched a career-long streak, and the latter is a career-long streak.
The Suns were also trying to match a season-long three-game winning streak, but fell as Devin Booker missed a 34-foot three-point attempt in the waning seconds.
Booker once again led the Suns in scoring, dropping in a game-high 37. He has now scored 30-plus points in 10 of the last 13 games for the Suns, including a franchise record seven straight during that span. Ayton was their next highest scorer with 25.
Derrick White had 25 off the bench for the Spurs. Bryn Forbes scored 24, LaMarcus Aldridge added 19 and DeMar DeRozan contributed 18.
The Spurs improved to 19-23 with the win, good enough for ninth in the west and just a half game behind the eighth-place Memphis Grizzlies (20-23).
Hield and Ayton will both be back in action tonight.
Hield and the Kings will continue their five-game road trip when they take on the Detroit Pistons at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan, starting at 7 p.m. tonight; and Ayton and the Suns will host the Indiana Pacers at the Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, starting at 9 p.m.