Sacramento Kings

The Kings’ third-quarter rush leads to third win in a row. Can it continue? ‘Why not?’

Kings center Willie Cauley-Stein, left, is congratulated by guard Buddy Hield during a game against the Heat in Miami on Monday. The Kings won 123-113.
Kings center Willie Cauley-Stein, left, is congratulated by guard Buddy Hield during a game against the Heat in Miami on Monday. The Kings won 123-113. AP

Kings guard Buddy Hield apparently has this new habit of answering a question with a lot of questions. Maybe winning does that to people.

Hield was asked if the Kings expected any of this after another scoring barrage propelled them to a 123-113 victory over the Miami Heat on Monday night at American Airlines Arena.

“Why not?” Hield said with a smile. “I mean, come on. Everybody expects to win. We expect great things, so, like, why not?”

Willie Cauley-Stein had a season-high 26 points and 13 rebounds, Hield posted 23 point and eight rebounds, and point guard De’Aaron Fox finished with 20 points and eight assists, leading Sacramento to its third consecutive victory.

The Kings (4-3), who will continue a four-game trip Tuesday when they play the Orlando Magic, have won four of their last five games. They have a winning record despite playing each of their first seven games against teams expected to vie for playoff berths.

“It’s fun as hell, man,” Cauley-Stein said. “We ain’t played like this in a while here. We ain’t had this kind of energy in a while here, so this energy is just refreshing, man. It’s fun to play like this — playing fast, everybody getting to touch it, everybody sharing their energy. It’s just fun to play.”

It didn’t start so well Monday night. On their first nine possessions, the Kings had three shots blocked, two passes stolen and two air balls. They missed 10 of their first 11 shots and had five of their first 14 shots blocked.

The Heat punished the Kings with a 10-2 run to start the game, led 28-17 at the end of the first quarter and went up by 12 before Sacramento staged 8-0 and 14-3 runs. The Kings rallied to tie the game at the half and broke it open with a third-quarter blitz that gave them a 17-point lead.

The run was so fast and furious that Cauley-Stein didn’t even realize the Kings had scored 43 points in the third period. Hield made 5 of 6 field-goal attempts and 3 of 4 from 3-point range in the quarter. Cauley-Stein scored 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting.

“Sheesh!” Cauley-Stein said. “Yeah, we were going crazy, but we’ve got 15 dudes that can do that, so each night is another chance for somebody else to unlock their game and go off. That’s how many different possessions we’re getting, so our pace is getting everybody involved and that’s what it’s all about.”

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said the Kings were relentless.

“They just kept on coming,” he said. “The speed, the pace and the quickness just wore us down in the second half.”

Kings coach Dave Joerger credited Cauley-Stein for continuing to run the floor even though he wasn’t being rewarded early.

“It was a great lesson because he kept running and all of the sudden he was getting the ball,” Joerger said. “By him running, he was opening up other things. De’Aaron was getting shots at the rim. Buddy was getting kick-outs. It was a team thing.”

Cauley-Stein got out in transition for emphatic two-handed dunks, dazzled with a soft touch on around the basket and skied high for crucial rebounds.

“I think Willie Cauley-Stein did a great job of running so hard,” said Heat guard Josh Richardson, who scored 31 points. “He was pulling multiple defenders with him because we were just trying to get matched up.”

Sacramento shot 49.5 percent from the field and made 46.2 percent from 3-point range. The Kings attempted 97 shots, tallied 28 assists and committed just 12 turnovers.

The Kings are sixth in the NBA in scoring at 117.9 points per game after finishing last in 2017-18. They have scored at least 112 points in all but one of their games this season.

“We’re just having fun right now,” Hield said.

Can they do it again Tuesday night in Orlando?

Hield smiled: “Why not?”

Jason Anderson: 916-321-1363, @JandersonSacBee