It could be said George Hill needed a night like Tuesday, where his impact was felt from start to finish.
Hill, however, wouldn’t say that.
“It’s not really about me,” Hill said. “It’s about the team and trying to find the right way and trying to figure everything out. It’s good to come out and get a good team win before we go on this four-game road trip.”
Hill played a big part in Tuesday’s 99-92 win over the Phoenix Suns at Golden 1 Center. He finished with 18 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals. It’s the most points he’s scored since his season-high 21 points Oct. 20 at Dallas.
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It’s been an uneven season for Hill, who has looked out of sorts trying to figure out his role. He’s also dealt with some personal issues off the court and missed Sunday’s game against Toronto.
“He was assertive offensively, got a couple shots to go down,” said Kings coach Dave Joerger. “We want him to keep looking for his shot, we need him to be a playmaker.”
Hill scored eight points in the first quarter, did not play in the second, and had seven points in the third. The Kings are trying to find time for young players, so sometimes even a starter who is playing well will sit for an extended stretch.
“No, that’s the rotation coach wants to go with,” Hill said. “You’ve got to respect that he’s trying put the young guys in situations where they can learn and things like that. Whatever he asks me to do, I’ve been trying to do it to the best of my ability.”
That hasn’t been easy. Hill came to the Kings after averaging a career-high 16.9 points for Utah last season. The Jazz were focused on making the playoffs, not concerned with developing a young high draft pick to eventually take over as point guard.
Hill has been trying to adjust to playing less, finding his game with new teammates while also serving as a mentor to rookie point guards De’Aaron Fox and Frank Mason III.
Hill said at this point he’s not searching for his role on the team.
“No, if it’s there, it’s there,” Hill said. “I’m just trying to help the young fellas learn, mentor them and figure that out as we go.”
He entered Tuesday shooting 43.1 percent from 3-point range, which is on pace for a career high, but he’s only attempting 2.5 per game.
Joerger does not want Hill to settle for jump shots, or settle for simply being a mentor.
“Obviously he’s a mentor, he’s been great for our guys,” Joerger said. “When he’s aggressive and looking for his shot I think that’s good for us. Too many times we all think he’s just a spot shooter. He’s a pretty good player in pick-and-roll and can make plays.”
Zach Randolph, another offseason pickup, continued his recent steady play, scoring 11 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter.
Hill and Randolph are both from Indiana, and Randolph said Hill’s game was “real important.”
“That’s my young, Indiana guy,” Randolph said. “He’s got it, he’s got it. He’s just got to keep playing and sticking with it.”
Beating the Suns (9-20) was important for the Kings (9-18) as they begin a four-game trip Thursday at Minnesota.
“We need this momentum,” Randolph said. “Especially for (Hill) to play good because he’s a big part of this and without him on top of his game it’s going to be hard for us. So we need G to play like that every game.”