De'Aaron Fox buzzer beater forces OT, leads Kings to victory
The Kings only benefit from losing if your obsession is the NBA draft lottery and the hope that maybe they'll land a top-three draft pick.
The players on the roster who will be around next season benefit more from figuring out how to win games rather than accepting defeat as part of the development process.
The Kings won for the fourth time in eight games, overcoming a rough fourth quarter and escaping with a 123-119 overtime victory over the Miami Heat on Wednesday at Golden 1 Center.
The Kings have the NBA's sixth-worst record at 22-47 and have been eliminated from playoff contention. The front office has already said priority would be given to younger players to develop them for the future.
That development is aided and perhaps accelerated when the learning is attached to wins rather than piling up losses to boost lottery hopes.
The Kings led by as many as 16 before Miami (36-33) rallied to take a late lead. The Heat led 111-109 with three seconds to play before De'Aaron Fox scored on a 9-foot floater as the regulation buzzer sounded.
Fox said the lessons learned from a game like Wednesday matter more because they came in a close win against a team likely to make the playoffs and an All-Star point guard in Goran Dragic.
"You learn how it's officiated, you learn what your tendencies are, what other players tendencies are," Fox said. "You learn how your coach handles different types of situations. It's better and you get a lot better when you're playing in close games."
The Kings put themselves in that situation by being outscored 32-20 in the fourth quarter, when Dragic scored 15 of his game-high 33 points.
Fox forced overtime and with the help of Buddy Hield (24 points), Zach Randolph (22 points, nine rebounds) and Bogdan Bogdnovic (14 points), the Kings seized the game in overtime.
Hield said Wednesday's experience is valuable because it can carry over into next season, adding that it was good because the team kept its composure and executed in overtime.
"Confidence comes with it," Hield said. "You can grind out close games and still don't win, but it feels good to win these games."
Randolph, one of the older players under contract for next season, said Wednesday's game and the Kings' recent stretch are important for his young teammates.
"We're building for next year," Randolph said. "It's great, coming in, playing in crunch time, being in overtime. D. Fox hitting big shots, Bogi hitting big shots, Buddy and our young guys getting experience, that's what it's all about."
Having Randolph play a starring role in the game, including an important blocked shot in overtime, gave Sacramento someone who has played in a lot of big games.
Hield, Fox and Bogdanovic have all made big shots late in games this season, so what they did Wednesday isn't new.
Hield said Randolph is a "pro" that has helped the Kings figure out how to master those moments.
"He always tells us, 'You've got to live in the clutch moments,'" Hield said. "That's where you make your money at. It's fun to be out there with Zach."