Buddy Hield’s 12 points in the fourth quarter did nothing to impact the inevitable Wednesday night.
The Kings lost again, dropping their sixth in a row, this time to the Boston Celtics 113-86 at TD Garden.
But maybe those late baskets will be the spark Hield needs to break free of a shooting slump that has dogged him this season. Sacramento needs that. The Kings (1-7) are struggling to score, failing to reach 90 points in their last three outings.
Hield is expected to be one of the Kings’ top scorers, but his shot has been so off that he was absent from the starting lineup for the first time this season, replaced by Garrett Temple.
Hield made all five of his shots in the fourth quarter with the game out of reach and finished with a team-high 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting.
“It helps a lot, seeing the ball go in,” Hield said. “But being more patient and when you see a few go in, that’s when your confidence rises up and you feel like the best scorer in the world.”
The Kings would settle for Hield being the best scorer on the team. He’s second on the squad at 11.1 points per game, but is shooting just 38.7 percent and 25.7 percent from 3-point range.
Hield said he struggled early last season as a rookie with New Orleans. But a slump of this magnitude is foreign to him.
“I’ve never been through a shooting slump like this for a long time,” Hield said. “I had previously once in college but I always had the ball in my hands where I could go get it and get out of it. In the NBA it’s hard to go get the ball because you’ve got professionals around you, guys that can score the ball, that can do things.”
He admitted that he had been “out there chasing it, trying to score,” and said coming off the bench was beneficial in that it allowed him to watch the flow of the game.
“Patience,” Hield said. “Patience, patience, patience, patience. And I think that I need to be a little more patient, that can also help me. I feel like I slowed down a little bit more and let the game come to me. I was a little more patient today.”
Hield is not alone in his struggles. The Kings are shooting 42.7 percent as a team and averaging just 93.1 points. That’s not nearly enough scoring in a league that emphasizes fast pace and 3-point shooting.
The Celtics (6-2) made 17 of 41 3-point attempts and won their sixth consecutive game, the longest current winning streak in the NBA.
“We just struggle to score,” Kings coach Dave Joerger said. “And when you play a team that can score, sometimes that inability let’s them be even more free and more loose.”
If Hield could play free and loose, that would help some of the scoring problems. He showed a glimpse of that Wednesday, but can he do it consistently, and when the pressure is on?
“It’s just part of the game,” Hield said. “You just have to lock down, focus and prepare yourself. Block out all the stuff that’s going on around you and prepare yourself to compete and make shots and try to help your team win.”