Kings attempt to avenge recent loss to Celtics
One team that has struggled on the road encounters another that's struggled at home when the Sacramento Kings visit the Boston Celtics on Thursday night.
The contest is a rematch of a game that featured a crazy finish last Wednesday night in Sacramento.
In that matchup, the Celtics appeared headed for a win before Gordon Hayward fouled the Kings' Buddy Hield on a 3-point attempt with 7.6 seconds remaining. Boston led by three points at the time.
Hield made all three free throws to tie the score.
Without taking a timeout, the Celtics inbounded the ball to Hayward, who dribbled the length of the court and nailed a short jumper from the left side of the key for the game-winner with two seconds left.
"I almost lost us the game with the foul," Hayward admitted to reporters afterward. "I was trying to get that one back for us."
The clutch shot highlighted a nice trip for Hayward that mirrored his team's success.
After having gone five straight games without scoring in double figures, the reserve averaged 19 points as the Celtics swept Golden State, Sacramento and the Los Angeles Lakers to open the four-game trip.
Hayward then was held to eight points in the Celtics' 140-115 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers that sent the team home.
That's where Boston has lost four of its last six, including defeats at the hands of Portland and Houston on the Celtics' last three-game homestand.
The Kings, meanwhile, haven't experienced any recent luck in Boston, having lost 10 straight dating back to January of 2007.
Seeking a hot streak in an attempt to make up a deficit in their pursuit of a playoff spot in the West, the Kings have alternated losses and wins in their last four games, including going 1-1 to start their current four-game trip.
They've lost 12 of their last 16 on the road, and now greet the daunting task of going back-to-back at Boston and Philadelphia.
The Kings hope to get star rookie Marvin Bagley III back for at least one of the two trip-ending games.
Bagley sprained his left knee in a home loss to Milwaukee on Feb. 27 and has missed the club's last five games.
He was given medical clearance to return to physical activities during the Kings' trip, and now awaits the green light for game action from the Sacramento medical staff.
"It's always tough not playing. That's what we signed up for: to play," he expressed to reporters during the trip. "I'm trying to be the best teammate and best person I can be while I'm out, learning and being supportive to the guys who are playing."
Nemanja Bjelica has taken on a greater role in Bagley's absence. He's recorded double-doubles in each of the first two games of the trip, going for 13 points and 10 rebounds in a win Saturday against New York, before contributing 15 points and 12 rebounds to Monday's loss at Washington.
The double-doubles were just his sixth and seventh of the season.
--Field Level Media
Updated March 13, 2019