Sports

Hield, Kings win five of six; Ayton, Suns fall to Warriors

Bahamian professional basketball player Chavano “Buddy” Hield and the Sacramento Kings (31-38) are putting up a fight as they look to pull off a near impossible task of securing a play-in berth in the Western Conference of the National Basketball Association (NBA).

They have won five of their last six games, culminated with a two-game sweep of the Oklahoma City Thunder (21-49). They defeated the Thunder, 122-106, on Tuesday night at home at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California. That win came on the heels of them beating the Thunder, 126-98, on Sunday.

Hield finished with 21 points, six assists, three rebounds and one steal in 31 minutes of action on Tuesday night. He went 8-for-15 from the field including 5-for-11 from three-point territory.

The Kings are within two and a half games of the San Antonio Spurs (33-35) for the final play-in spot in the Western Conference. To get in, the Kings must win their final three games and get help from other teams to pass the Spurs and New Orleans Pelicans (31-38).

At the Chase Center in San Francisco, California, fellow Bahamian DeAndre Ayton and the Phoenix Suns (48-21) were not so fortunate as they were unable to hold off a fourth quarter rally from the Golden State Warriors (37-33), falling 122-116.

Ayton finished the game with eight points and eight rebounds in 32 minutes of play. He also had two blocks.

After a five-game win streak that put them into the top spot in the Western Conference, the Suns have lost three of their last four games. They now hold the second seed in the conference.

The Kings had a great start to their game as they jumped out to an 8-2 lead at the 9:34 mark. They lost the lead as the Thunder went on a 17-2 scoring run. Hield stopped that run when he connected on a three pointer at the 5:40 mark to cut the Thunder lead to 19-13. He then made another trey with 4:21 left in the first quarter, but the Thunder still led, 23-18.

At the end of the first quarter, the Thunder led 32-27.

The Kings gave up 33 more points in the second quarter but was able to outscore the Thunder 35-33. In that quarter, sharpshooter Hield finished with eight points and went 3-for-6 from the field including 2-for-4 from deep. Altogether, he scored 14 points in the first half, but the Thunder led 65-62 at the break.

Coming out the break, the Kings turned up their offense and defense. Defensively, they held the Thunder to 7-for-21 from the field and 1-for-7 from three-point territory. On the offensive end, the Kings went on to shoot 15-for-23 from the field and 8-for-12 from deep. By the end of the third quarter, the Kings held a 21-point edge, 102-83, as they outscored the Thunder 41-18 in the third.

Hield played just over five minutes in the fourth quarter, connecting on his 274th three-pointer of the season, and the Kings coasted to victory.

Hield’s 274 made three-pointers this season has him sitting at number two in the league in made three-pointers, and is just four shy of his career-high and franchise record of 278. The Warriors’ Stephen Curry leads the league with 328 made treys. Sitting in third is the Portland Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard with 265 made three-pointers.

It appears that it will take a strong finish for Hield to surpass the 300 made three-pointers threshold – a mark just two other players, Curry and James Harden of the Brooklyn Nets, have achieved. Including this season, Curry has now done it four times.

Leading the way for the Kings on Tuesday was reserve guard Terence Davis with a game-high 27 points. The Thunder’s Kenrich Williams finished with a team-high 20 points.

The Suns got off to a hot start at the Chase Center in their game against the Warriors, taking a 38-29 lead at the end of the first quarter. Ayton had four points in that quarter, after going 2-for-3 from the field. He also had three boards.

In the second and third quarters, the Suns managed to keep the Warriors at bay, holding a 98-92 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

However, a six-point lead against Curry and the Warriors is never enough. They stayed close to the Suns all quarter before making a move at the 1:43 mark, taking a 116-113 lead. For the final 1:10 of the game, the Suns were unable to convert a bucket. Curry hit a dagger floating jump shot with 45 seconds remaining, to put his team up 120-116.

Ayton did not attempt a single shot from the field in that final period despite playing just over seven minutes. He did pick up two blocks.

Devin Booker finished with 34 points for the Suns. Andrew Wiggins of the Warriors led all scorers with 38 points in the victory.

The Suns will face Lillard and the Blazers (40-29) tonight at the Phoenix Suns Arena in Phoenix, Arizona. The game will be aired on TNT and will get underway at 10 o’clock.

Hield and the Kings will look to make it four straight wins when they head to FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tennessee, to play the Memphis Grizzlies tonight. Tip-off is set for 8 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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