SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Shooting decline in basketball is inevitable. Expecting to be a shooter every night is like expecting a perfect 80 degree sky with clear skies and no wind every day. It just doesn’t work when every prediction and game is different.
Kevin Hurter has been in a shooting slump to start the season, and it’s as clear as a quiet, 80-degree day how he’s affected it. After the Sacramento Kings’ overtime win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Oct. 29, he pointed out how his happiness can be defined based on performance.
HThe need for performance is not something every professional athlete is willing to face. But his entrance was a reminder that, beyond his fame, fortune and superior talent on the hardwood, he is more relevant than his fans may realize.
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On Friday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Huerter dropped a team-high 28 points, grabbed nine rebounds, picked multiple pockets for three steals and knocked down four 3s — all of which were season highs or tied for season highs. While the kings The 105-98 intramural victory was without a doubt Haerter’s best performance, as he has been simmering for the past three games. During that stretch, he posted back-to-back season highs of 13 points, 17 points and 28, respectively.
None of this would be possible without the support of teammates and coaches.
“It’s just a matter of lifting them up and staying as positive as we can with them,” said Sacramento coach Mike Brown after Huerter and Keegan Murray both had their first double-doubles of the year with 24 points. and 11 plates. But pushing in other areas as well. I pushed them both to defend. I pushed them both back. I pushed them both to do something small. And if you are open to hit the ball, because I believe. If I believe it and I’m telling you to shoot, even if you’re 1-for-10, that gives you the comfort level you need to shoot.
“These guys get all the credit because they’re the ones who have to figure out how to get through it, whether it’s mental or physical. … They continue to try to find other ways to win ballgames even when the ball doesn’t go in.
King’s two markers combined for 52 points, 20 rebounds, six steals, three assists and two blocks on 19-of-36 shooting and 7-of-20 from long range. It included this. Rocker level, one-dribble poster by Chet Holmgren in Murray.
Keegan chats on poster 😱😱😱 pic.twitter.com/2BJhCxqkWz
— Kings on NBCS (@NBCSKings) November 11, 2023
“Winning helps solve a lot of problems,” Murray said. Whether we’re shooting the ball well or shooting the ball poorly, our whole team is me and Kevin. Nights like this help our team camaraderie and all the things guys go through.
Huerter scored seven of Sacramento’s first nine points to start a game-high 15-point first quarter on 6-of-8 shooting from the field and 3-of-5 from deep. At halftime, Huerter was sitting on 19 points, surpassing last season’s high and trailing only Domantas Sabinis with five again. Sabadis posted a 17-point, 13-rebound, 13-assist triple-double—his first of the season and 15th since his time in Sacramento—to put some distance on the board between himself and Huerter. In doing so, Sandis passed Sacramento-era Hall of Famer Chris Weber.
The Red Velvet are on a hot streak with 15 points in the first quarter 🔥 @KevinHuerter | @dialpad pic.twitter.com/5FXvlOaic3
— Sacramento Kings (@SacramentoKings) November 11, 2023
“It’s nothing special,” he said of the performance. “Our offense is just movement. It’s cutting too much, I’m trying to play fast, guys find me. It is only giving life and energy to our sins. That’s what I think I bring to this team. “Just keep moving and the ball will find me,” he said.
Huerter has certainly adjusted from distance over the past three games, connecting on 11 of 27 3-pointers to shoot 40.7 percent in the Kings’ loss to the Houston Rockets. He made just 5 of 25 in the first five games. But to be successful long-term, Huerter knows he needs to make an impact in more areas than just his 3-point shooting.
“Just trying to do it all,” he said. Playing big minutes tonight, you need that. In that given game and whoever was on the court that night, doing those little things. You guys have been around all year, Coach is trying to preach back on defense and offense. … Those little things, that’s what it takes sometimes to get out of a shooting slump.”
Those little things contributed to Sacramento holding an opponent under 100 points for the first time this season on Friday. Brown is well aware of that success.
“We’re shooting 42 percent from the field and 28 percent from the 3-point line,” Brown said. “That was a loss for us last year. Being able to have a good offensive team, shooting 44 percent from the field and 23 percent from the 3-point line, under 100 points is what we want to be.
Coach Brown shares his thoughts on tonight’s win over the Thunder and the contributions of every player who stepped on the court pic.twitter.com/BNgKqrSviS
— Sacramento Kings (@SacramentoKings) November 11, 2023
Doing it without De’Aaron Fox (ankle) and Trey Lyles (calf) is even more impressive. It remains to be seen if the Kings will bounce back when they play host to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday. Both have been active and on court during practice. Fox participated in shooting drills with the rest of the team during Friday’s shootout.
Could their first intramural game be a fluke? who knows. But the Kings will get their fourth win of the season to get to .500. Sacramento is first tied with the Minnesota Timberwolves in Pool C of the Western Conference. Both teams have a margin of victory of seven points.
That’s why Sabinis jokingly blamed Huerter for not making another 3 on the final play of the game. If he did, and did, it would have put Hueren up 31 points and ruined his tie with the Timberwolves.
“Honestly, (the career high) wasn’t something I thought about. Just trying to get a W,” Huerter said. “It’s different, the point is that the difference is important. So, it wasn’t what I was thinking. The end of the game, the last possession, not trying to show the team. Everyone was booing and I couldn’t figure out why until I caught the ball to be honest. Something to keep in mind when we have our next competitive game.
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(Photo: Sergio Estrada / USA Today)