It takes a high level of mental toughness to make big shots in pressure situations, as Kings guard Bogdan Bogdanovic has shown a knack for doing this season.
But it also requires a lot of mental fortitude to trudge through the final stages of a losing NBA season, as the Kings are doing. That's especially true for Bogdanovic, who became accustomed to winning teams in Europe before joining the Kings this season.
Still, in the midst of a bad shooting night, Bogdanovic found the resolve to hit a game-winner with 1.1. seconds to play and make a game-saving defensive play in the Kings' 94-93 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies Friday night at FedExForum.
Bogdanovic gave the Kings the lead on a 16-foot pullup jumper over MarShon Brooks with 1.1 seconds to play. He then stole the inbounds pass to end the game.
Bogdanovic said he feels "all right" physically, but the games at this point are a grind on his psyche.
"It's more mental because we're out of the playoffs and these games don't give you the same feedback at the end of the game," Bogdanovic said. "But we're still trying to win and still trying to play the right way. It's tough but we'll figure it out, and as I said we want to finish the season strong."
Bogdanovic has become more of a leader with the Kings as the season progressed, and it wouldn't be bad if is approach to the game became something other teammates mimic.
He's said success is about creating a culture of sharing, sacrifice and communication on the court. He doesn't talk a lot about his own success, but is always happy to praise the growth and progress of his teammates.
Bogdanovic is also hard on himself.
He was mad that he missed a 3-pointer to tie the game in Tuesday's loss at Phoenix and is still a fierce competitor, even in a game with no playoff implications.
Bogdanovic had only eight points against the Grizzlies and shot just 4 of 11.
"He's struggled shooting the basketball, it didn't seem like he had a lot of energy," said Kings coach Dave Joerger. "And he's got the purest heart ever — he's just exhausted mentally and so he kind of lost focus. We got him some good looks."
The last look came on the same play the Kings ran at Phoenix, a game that he shot 8 of 21.
"I think it's the karma of the game," Joerger said. "Give him the ball in the same spot, and they did have a foul to give and we had a second play ready to go if they had fouled. He got to his spot on the floor and made the shot."
Considering Bogdanovic was shooting poorly and was the only Kings starter to not score in double figures, making the final shot was a relief. Bogdanovic also had four assists on the night.
"It feels good honestly, especially when you had a bad night like I had," Bogdanovic said. "You find a way to get offense. Most important thing is we won the game, and finish the (next) games strong."
That's Bogdanovic's intent, to win the final two games of the season. Even if he's not shooting well, Bogdanovic won't lack confidence in the closing seconds of a game.
"I always think I can do better, but sometimes it's just not your night—but you still have to believe like I did tonight," Bogdanovic said. "That was the confidence level."
Brooks led the Grizzlies (21-58) with 23 points. Willie Cauley-Stein led the Kings (26-54) with 18 points and eight rebounds.