Kings aim to boost fortunes against sinking Suns
The Sacramento Kings have generated conversation about ending their pronounced postseason drought by winning four of their last five contests.
The Kings look to continue their pursuit toward their first playoff appearance since the 2005-06 season on Sunday night when they conclude their six-game homestand against the Western Conference-worst Phoenix Suns, who have dropped 13 in a row.
Buddy Hield scored 23 points on 8-for-16 shooting from the field as Sacramento overcame an 11-point deficit in the fourth quarter to post a 102-96 victory versus Miami on Friday.
"I was like, 'We've been here before, we've done it before,'" the 26-year-old Hield said. "It comes down to confidence, wanting to be in that position and wanting to succeed and excel. As a young team, they don't expect us to excel but for us we have to put pressure on ourselves to do good in those situations so coach can trust us."
Hield, who leads the team with 20.5 points per game this season, is averaging 23.8 and 7.8 rebounds while shooting 50 percent from the floor in his last four contests.
Harrison Barnes collected 12 points and seven rebounds in his Kings debut after being acquired from Dallas in a three-team trade earlier in the week.
"I think Harrison Barnes is a guy who, whether it's public or not, I tried to trade for a hundred times," coach Dave Joerger said, via the Sacramento Bee. "I goaded my management in Memphis. I thought he would have been perfect for us. He can play (small forward) and when you want to size down he can play (power forward). I thought he would have been a great complement there."
Alec Burks, who was acquired from Cleveland in a three-team deal, had nine points and four rebounds versus the Heat. Burks is expected to give Sacramento a bit more energy off the bench for a team that is already receiving strong contributions from guard Bogdan Bogdanovic (14.8 average).
The Kings committed just 14 turnovers on Friday, which is a lot better than the season-worst 26 they had in a 115-111 setback to the Suns on Jan. 8.
Kelly Oubre Jr. matched his career-best total with 26 points in that contest as Phoenix rallied from a 21-point deficit to upset visiting Sacramento.
Oubre provided another strong showing on Friday with 25 points and a career-best 12 rebounds and rookie Deandre Ayton added 23 and 12, respectively, but the Suns saw an early 15-point lead go by the boards in a 117-107 loss to Golden State.
"We can compete," said Ayton, who recorded his 30th double-double in 51 games. "We're maturing even though we're young. We can challenge any team. Don't mind our record, there's a lot of guys with a lot of great potential and we could actually make a dynasty team."
Ayton has averaged 19.3 points on 27-of-50 shooting from the field and 10.7 rebounds in his last three games.
Josh Jackson has found his scoring touch by averaging 24 points on 38-for-73 shooting from the field in his last four contests.
Devin Booker, who leads the team in scoring (24.9) and assists (6.7), has missed two straight games with a tight right hamstring. He is considered day-to-day.
--Field Level Media
Updated February 9, 2019