Kings coach Luke Walton addresses why he did not go with Buddy Hield late vs. Raptors
Sacramento Kings shooting guard Buddy Hield watched the entire fourth quarter of Sunday’s game against the Toronto Raptors from the bench. Having been moved into a sixth-man role earlier this year, Hield was still finishing games as one of the Kings’ best shooting options, but Luke Walton still opted to leave him out as the Kings tried and failed to secure a win.
Sacramento had a chance to tie the game in the waning moments, only to see Nemanja Bjelica badly miss a 3-pointer. Hield was still on the bench, resulting in a fan loudly chastising Walton for not putting the 3-Point Contest champion in the game with the game on the lane. Following the 118-113 loss, Walton had some questions to answer after leaving his best shooter on the bench:
“We were scoring, we really were scoring on every play,” said Walton after the game, according to Jason Jones of The Athletic. “Offensively, you score 39 (in the fourth quarter) in a close game, you’re doing enough to win offensively.”
Walton said he intended to plug Hield right back in, but Bogdan Bogdanovic got on a roll at the right time:
“We have faith in all our guys,” said Walton. “And I’ve said before, when a group is rolling, we’re going to stay with them.”
To add to this nightmare, the Kings’ starting lineup lacked a punch during the first three quarters, only coming alive for those 39 points in the fourth. Walton lamented the slow start:
“The slow starts, we’ve got to figure that out because we’ve got to rely on our bench to actually get us fighting,” said Walton. “… Same thing to start the third quarter. We had to take a timeout and go back to the bench again.”
Hield could be once again in line to start since being demoted to the bench more than a month ago. That could inject new life into the Kings, who are hopeful to make a playoff push in this last stretch. Sacramento dropped to 28-36 with the loss, which is four games back of the Memphis Grizzlies for the No. 8 seed.