Hield, Ayton tip off their seasons

Hield opens season off the bench for the Kings; Jones does not play

The 75th National Basketball Association (NBA) season got underway on Tuesday night but the Bahamian trio were in action for the respective teams on Wednesday when there was a near full slate of games.

Picking up a win was Chavano ‘Buddy’ Hield and the Sacramento Kings and Kai Jones and the Charlotte Hornets. DeAndre Ayton and the Phoenix Suns were not so fortunate.

Hield, now a reserve, scored 17 points, and added six rebounds. It was his first opening day reserve role since his rookie season in 2016-2017. Be that as it may, Hield shot 5-for-9 from the field and 4-for-7 from deep to help his team take down the Portland Trail Blazers, 124-121, at the Moda Center in Portland, Oregon.

Jones did not log a minute but the rookie’s team came away with a 123-122 comeback victory over the Indiana Pacers on their home court at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Ayton and the defending Western Conference Champions Suns fell 110-98 to the Denver Nuggets at the Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona. The big man finished with 15 points and six rebounds in 33 minutes of play. He finished 6-for-10 from the field, shooting 60 percent.

The Kings managed to control the pace of the game in the first three quarters. They led 24-23 after one and scored 38 points each in the second and third quarters.

Hield checked into the game at the 6:06 mark of the first quarter. His first bucket of the season came at the 5:28 mark when he made an 11-foot jump shot. Hield then made his first three-point shot for the season, 20 seconds later. He finished the quarter with six points.

The Kings’ offense clicked all game as they shot 46 percent from the field. They made 17 three-pointers in the game. They were able to hold their biggest lead of the game of 18 points when they led 75-57 at the 7:50 mark of the third quarter.

They held off a late game comeback by the Blazers to hold on for the win. Harrison Barnes led them with 36 points.

The Hornets played from behind most of the first half. They used a 33-13 third quarter advantage to get them back in the game as they led 92-88 heading into the fourth quarter. The Pacers led 75-59 at the end of the first half.

It was a close game down the stretch as both teams played competitive basketball. The game was tied at 121 with 12.4 seconds left in the game. The Pacers broke the tie with a free throw to take a 122-121 lead. P.J. Washington made two free throws with 4.6 seconds left in the game to give the Hornets a 123-122 lead. A last second shot by the Pacers rimmed out and the Hornets won the game.

Ayton made his first bucket for the season at the 11:19 mark of the first quarter to tie their game with the Nuggets at two. He finished the first quarter with eight points and four rebounds. The Suns trailed 26-20 at the end of the first period.

A huge 38-25 advantage helped the Suns take a 58-51 lead heading into the half.

It was poor second half showing from the conference champions as they were outscored 59-40.

The Suns’ offense was stagnant, particularly in the second half. As for their defense, they allowed the Nuggets to shoot a blistering 53 percent from the field for the game. The Suns shot 41 percent from the floor.

The Suns have an opportunity to bounce back when they head to the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, to play the Los Angeles Lakers on ESPN. That game starts at 10 o’ clock tonight.

Jones will have an opportunity to play tonight as the Hornets go on the road to Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland, Ohio, to take on the Cleveland Cavaliers. Tip-off is set for 7 o’ clock.

The Kings’ home opener will get underway tonight when they host the Utah Jazz at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California. Tip-off time is set for 10 o’ clock.

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Simba French

Simba joined The Nassau Guardian in 2012 as a technical producer for Guardian Radio 96.9 FM. He joined the Editorial Department as a sports reporter in 2018. Simba has covered a wide range of sports stories, including the 2018 CARIFTA in Nassau, Bahamas. Education: College of the Bahamas, BA Media Journalism

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