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Buddy Hield #24 of the Sacramento Kings reacts during the fourth quarter against the Detroit Pistons at Little Caesars Arena on February 26, 2021
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Kings Suffer Meltdown, Blow Late Lead In Loss To Charlotte

(Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)

Sacramento held an eight-point lead with just over a minute remaining before an epic collapse

It can never be easy for the Sacramento Kings.

After taking an eight-point lead with under a minute remaining, the Kings missed four free-throws in-a-row to give the Charlotte Hornets an avenue back into the game.

The Hornets would respond with a 12-3 run over the final 1:13 to stun the Kings on Sunday night, winning by a final of 127-126 at Golden 1 Center.

Sacramento (13-21) was on the verge of claiming their second-consecutive win before the epic meltdown, possibly becoming the worst loss of the season for a team that has struggled mightily over the past three weeks.

After four missed free-throws in a row from De’Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley III, Hornets guard Terry Rozier was fouled on a three-point attempt with 33.9 seconds remaining.

Rozier would sink all three, cutting the Kings lead to 123-121.

Fox converted a floater to put Sacramento out in front 125-121 with 23.8 seconds remaining, once again making it seem as if this game was in the bag.

P.J. Washington added on to his career-high 42 points with a three-pointer to make it 125-124, with Charlotte fouling Buddy Hield at the 10.7 mark following the triple.

Like Fox and Bagley before him, Hield would miss the first free-throw, ensuring the fact that the Hornets would receive the ball down by two points and no timeouts.

Charlotte guard Malik Monk would drive the lane and convert an and-one opportunity, sinking the lay-in and free-throw after being fouled by Richaun Holmes to give the Hornets a one-point lead with just over one second remaining.

Buddy Hield’s half-court prayer would not fall, cementing a stunning loss into the foundation of what has been a February from hell for the Sacramento Kings.

Being unable to convert free-throws and execute down the stretch cost this team a pivotal win before facing a loaded Los Angeles Lakers team on Wednesday.

Leading by eight points with just over a minute remaining and going one-for-six from the charity stripe during closing time isn’t just inexcusable–it’s embarrassing.

This Kings team needs a shot in the arm–fast–if they are to right the ship and get things back on track.

Bright(ish) Spots

After a rough six-game stretch that saw him shoot 27-percent from three-point range, Buddy Hield had a much-needed scoring outburst on Sunday night.

Hield caught fire in the first half, scoring 17 of his season-high 30 points in the first quarter alone.

The sharpshooting guard would finish the night eight-of-15 from the three-point line in his strongest offensive showing of the season.

‘Buddy Buckets’ became the 120th player in NBA history to make 1,000 three-pointers on Sunday night, eclipsing the mark after making his seventh triple of the game during the third quarter.

It’s a noteworthy milestone for Hield, who also became the fastest player in NBA history to reach the 1,000 mark.

After a scary moment in the closing seconds that involved Hield turning his ankle and hobbling to the bench, the 28-year-old told the media postgame that he expects to play against the Lakers on Wednesday night.

“Does it look like I like to miss games?” Hield said after Sunday’s game. “You’ll see me next game.”

Hield has not missed a game since November 11, 2017, appearing in 252 straight contests.

Harrison Barnes was off to the best start of his nine-year career until seeing his production slip in unison with suffering a foot injury that resulted in the veteran having to miss multiple games.

Since returning from the injury last week, Barnes has returned to his early-season form.

‘The Black Falcon” scored 28 points on 10-of-14 shooting from the field, including a big flush with just over a minute remaining to seemingly put the game away.

In his four games since returning from injury, Barnes has posted 22.2 points, 6.0 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 1.2 steals per game on 56-percent shooting from the field and 47-percent from the three-point line.

De’Aaron Fox posted his ninth double-double of the season in the loss, scoring 20 points to go along with a season-high 14 assists.

In his third season of NBA action, Marvin Bagley III is coming into his own.

Bagley scored 24 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, posting his 10th double-double of the season against the Hornets.

In a season that has been full of bright spots for the 21-year-old, the biggest improvement in Bagley’s game has been his three-point shooting. Over his first two seasons in the league, Bagley was shooting 28-percent from three-point range.

This season?

The former Duke Blue Devil has converted 33 of his 88 attempts, good enough for a career-high 37-percent average.

On The Mend

Rookie guard Tyrese Haliburton missed his second-straight game due to a sore calf.

Head coach Luke Walton said pregame that Haliburton is considered day-to-day. With only two games remaining in the first half of the season before a week-long All-Star break, it’s possible that the rookie could be sidelined until mid-March when play resumes.

Calf injuries are tricky, hence the Kings’ training staff showing their caution with the 21-year-old.

Coming Up

Sacramento will face LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday night in the first game of a back-to-back.

Last season, the Lakers took two out of three matchups with the Kings, although Sacramento came out on top in their most recent meeting on August 13, 2020 during play in the NBA Bubble.

Be sure to tune in for all of the action right here on Sports 1140 KHTK, starting with pregame coverage at 3:00pm PST on The Jason Ross & Doug Christie Show prior to a 7:00pm PST tip-off from Golden 1 Center.

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