SACRAMENTO -- The Sacramento Kings have struggled to hit shots early in the 2017-18 season. They came into Tuesday night's game against the Thunder averaging just 93.8 points per game, good enough for 29th in the NBA.
Through the first quarter it looked like the team might set a new NBA record for the least points scored in a game.
And then Buddy Hield showed up.
"I've been trying to find a rhythm for the whole season," Hield said following the Kings win over the Thunder on Tuesday evening. "Thank god I finally got some to fall down. Just trusting what I do, trusting what got me here. It was good to see the ball go in."
Hield came in off the bench to drop in a pair of buckets in the late first quarter to cut the Thunder's lead to 25-10. He came out hot in the second quarter, launching and hitting 6-of-7 from the field, including a perfect 3-of-3 from long range.
After shooting just 39.4 percent from the field and 26.3 percent from deep through nine games, Hield finished the night with a team-high 21 points on 7-of-9 shooting.
"Buddy gave everyone confidence by his shots falling," coach Dave Joerger said. "What I really liked about Buddy in the first half is I think he was 6-for-7 but he got six or seven wide open looks for his teammates by penetrating and finding the open guy and making the right play. That is my ‘atta boy' for Buddy."
Hield credited an unlikely source for his improvement. Rookie Bogdan Bogdanovic has been in his ear, helping him pick up some subtle nuances to the game in hopes of opening the floor for his teammates.
"Guys know I love to score, but I've been talking to Bogi too," Hield added. "Bogi's been helping me a lot through this. We sit next to each other on the plane and he's like, ‘If you make this pass right here, that makes the ball move.' I just really took to that."
It's one game, but for a young player who's struggled early in the season, it's a place to start for Hield. He hit the glass hard again, coming away with seven rebounds in 28 minutes of action. The assists totals aren't there yet, but the ball moved more freely around the court for Sacramento while the 23-year-old guard was on the floor.