Hield, Lawson lead Kings past Suns, 129-104
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) It took nine seasons and 551 games. Now Ty Lawson finally has the triple-double that eluded him for years.
Buddy Hield scored a career-high 30 points and Lawson had his first career triple-double, getting 22 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds to lead the Sacramento Kings to a 129-104 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night.
A veteran guard who has resurrected his career with a solid first season with the Kings, Lawson said he’s come close to getting a triple-double multiple times. Yet each time it was the rebound total that was holding him back.
Inserted back into the game in the fourth quarter, Lawson grabbed his 10th rebound to ignite a fast-break dunk by Skal Labissiere. Lawson was hugged by teammates moments later after the Suns called a timeout following 11 unanswered points by the Kings.
”The ball was bouncing my way early and I was trying to be aggressive overall, getting into the paint,” Lawson said. ”If it (triple-double) happened it happened. Coach put me back in. He wanted me to have it.”
The Kings never trailed, scoring the game’s first nine points, leading by 19 at halftime and keeping a double-digit lead the entire second half. It helped that Phoenix never got going offensively, shooting just under 30 percent in the opening half and 37.6 percent overall.
The Suns closed the season with 14 losses in 16 games and finished with the second-worst record in the NBA. They had a second consecutive 50-plus loss season, missing the playoffs for the seventh straight time.
”We still have a lot of talent, we can grow together and gain experience,” said Marquese Chriss, who had 22 points. ”We’ve had a tough season, long road trips, and many back-to-backs. It’s just another game. We just have to keep growing, moving forward, and try your best.”
Ben McLemore, Willie Cauley-Stein and Georgios Papagiannis all had 13 points for the Kings. The Kings snapped a two-game losing streak, beating the Suns for the third time in four games this season.
Following the trade of DeMarcus Cousins at the All-Star break, the Kings took a new direction and have focused on the development of younger players, including three rookies. Sacramento has 11 straight losing seasons with zero playoff appearances.
“We just wanted to go out with a huge impression, something to look forward to next season,” said Hield, who had 15 points in the fourth quarter. ”The energy tonight felt real good, like opening night again.
”I just can’t wait to work this summer and get better, get to know the guys better, the coaching staff, so we can all connect.”
Tyler Ulis had 27 points and six assists for Phoenix, which gave leading scorer Devon Booker the night off on its final game of the season.
Suns: Chriss grew up in Sacramento and was drafted by the Kings last June but his rights were traded that day to the Suns. … Phoenix missed 22 of 30 3-point attempts.
Kings: Georgios Papagiannis got in a shoving match late in the first quarter with Dragan Bender, and Chriss also intervened. All three players received technicals. The technical on Papagiannis was the first for the Kings since Cousins departed the team. … The Kings are 8-16 since the Cousins trade.
GAY UNDECIDED ABOUT NEXT SEASON
Veteran Kings forward Rudy Gay tore his Achilles tendon and only played 30 games this season. He said the rehab is ahead of schedule and he’s anxious to get back in the gym. However, Gay is an unrestricted free agent and isn’t sure if he will be returning to the Kings next season.
”It’s one thing at a time. I think I’ve been doing well just worrying about my injury,” he said. ”I’m going to stick with that and let the people I pay to handle it.”
Suns: No more games remaining.
Kings: Conclude the season on the road Wednesday night against the Clippers.