The Kings are poised for an 82-game season of unpredictability.
How many would have predicted their first win would be preserved by a rebound from Buddy Hield?
That’s what happened Friday night in the Kings’ 93-88 victory over the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Center. Hield’s teammates tease about his “hunger” to get the ball, but that’s usually referring to shooting it.
“We make fun of Buddy a lot during warmup lines because when we’re shooting there, as soon as the ball comes off, Buddy is wrestling people for balls to get his shot warmed up and things like that,” said Kings guard George Hill. “So we always tell Buddy to stop being so hungry for the ball to get some shots up. ... All that stuff paid off.”
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Hill called Hield’s rebound the play of the game.
Hield, whose critics say he’s just a scorer, soared in for an offensive rebound with 30.1 seconds to play to set up the clincher, an 18-foot jumper from Hill for a 91-86 lead with 16.4 left.
“I saw Z-Bo (Zach Randolph) put it up, my defender’s back was turned,” Hield said. “So automatically you think go to the glass and try to sneak one out and if I didn’t sneak one out, get back on defense because they’re going to run it back at you any second. But it was a good play and a good read by me.”
Turning to Hill late in the game is no surprise. He’s played in plenty of big games and continues to emphasize poise with his teammates, such as De’Aaron Fox, who was on the floor for all except 32 seconds of the fourth quarter.
“That’s what we’ve been trying to teach all preseason and training camp, is when it gets down to that fourth quarter and when we have one or two possessions, we have to really lock in,” Hill said. “Just to get good possessions down that stretch, where it gives us a chance to win. Because we know that for us to win, sometimes it’s going to be hard, especially on the road. Just a collective group today that played well.”
Hield finished with 13 points and six rebounds. Hill led the Kings (1-1) with 21 points. Fox had 10 assists.
The Kings held a 57-36 rebounding advantage and had nine players with at least one offensive rebound.
That sums up what the Kings need this season: something from everyone. And many nights there will be no predicting who comes up with the big play.
“It was a team win,” Randolph said. “For us to win we’re going to need everybody, collectively, to pitch in.”