On the strength of a six-game winning streak, DeAndre Ayton and the Phoenix Suns (35-14) are sitting in second and eyeing the number one seed in a tough Western Conference in the National Basketball Association (NBA). They took down the Houston Rockets (13-37), 133-130, at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas, on Monday night.
Chavano “Buddy” Hield and the Sacramento Kings (22-29) were not so fortunate as they fell to the Minnesota Timberwolves (13-38), 116-106, at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on Monday night.
Hield finished with 18 points in the game against the T-wolves, all of which came on made three-pointers, and he now sits at the top of the league this season in made three-pointers with 204 as of yesterday afternoon. Hield finished the night 6-for-17 from the field and was 6-for-16 from three-point range. The three-point specialist has made 288 field goals in total this season, meaning that 70.8 percent of those made field goals have come from beyond the arc.
With 21 games left on the Kings’ regular season schedule, Hield is on pace to make 288 three-pointers. He is averaging four made shots from deep per game and is averaging 38.3 percent shooting from deep.
The Grand Bahama native is the first player this season to go over the 200 made three-pointers mark. The Portland Trailblazers’ Damian Lillard and the Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry both have 196 made three-pointers. The Miami Heat’s Duncan Robinson is the next closest with 173 made three-pointers.
Apart from reaching the 200-mark in threes made, Hield was also able to grab seven boards, dish out three assists, record two steals and pick up one block in 32 minutes of play against the T-wolves.
Hield missed his first four shots of the game but converted on his next two. He made his first shot at the top of the key at the 7:28 mark of the first quarter to tie the game at 13. The Kings held a 29-26 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Hield made one basket in the second quarter, and the Timberwolves tied the game at 55 heading into the second half.
The sixth overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft made his first shot for the Kings out the break to give his team a 58-57 lead with 11:28 remaining in the third quarter. At the 6:11 mark, Hield made another three-point shot to put his team up 70-64. After the Kings took an 80-72 lead with 3:11 left in the third quarter, the Timberwolves closed out the quarter on a 10-2 run, tying the game at 82 at the end of the third quarter.
Hield was cold in the fourth quarter, going 0-for-3 from the field. His team struggled in the middle of the fourth quarter as the Wolves went on a 13-2 run with 8:40 remaining after the game was tied at 91. The home team won that quarter 34-24 and that turned out to be the final blow for the Kings. They sit in 12th in the Western Conference – four games behind the eighth-seeded Memphis Grizzlies.
The Kings’ De’Aaron Fox led all scorers with 31 points. D’Angelo Russell finished with 25 points for the Wolves after returning from a long absence due to a knee injury.
Ayton managed to nab a double-double, tying a season-high with 27 points to go along with 11 boards in 33 minutes of play. He went 10-for-14 from the field, shooting 71 percent on the night. The center went on to finish the game 7-for-8 from the charity stripe. He also went on to finish with two blocks.
Ayton opened the first quarter by going 1-for-3 from the field to score two points. The game was tied at 34 at the end of the first quarter.
After a slow first quarter, Ayton came alive in the second quarter, finishing with 10 points on 4-for-4 shooting from the field in that quarter and 2-for-2 shooting from the free-throw line. The Suns led 70-60 at the end of the first half.
Ayton turned it up another notch in the third quarter as he was an unstoppable force. The big man finished with 15 points in that quarter. He had two alley-oop plays in the quarter, including one at the 7:52 mark to put his team up 83-71. He ended up going 5-for-7 from the field and 5-for-6 from the free-throw line in that quarter. At the end of the third quarter, the Suns led 101-92.
Although he played almost eight minutes in the fourth quarter, Ayton did not attempt a shot nor a free throw. He managed to grab five rebounds in that quarter. His teammate Devin Booker poured in 18 points in that quarter to help the Suns hold off the feisty Rockets.
Christian Wood led the Rockets with 23 points.
Ayton and the Suns will play a key game tonight against the Western Conference number one seed, the Utah Jazz (38-12), at home – the Phoenix Arena in Phoenix, Arizona. The game will be televised live on ESPN, starting at 10 p.m.
The Kings return to action tomorrow night when they head back home to the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California, to play the Detroit Pistons (15-35), starting at 10 p.m.