In his first National Basketball Association (NBA) official game since March, Bahamian Chavano “Buddy” Hield netted a team-high 19 points against the Miami Heat on Wednesday night at the ESPN World Wide Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida. However, Hield and the short-handed Sacramento Kings fell, 104-98, in the scrimmage game. They were without guard De’Aaron Fox and forwards Harrison Barnes and Marvin Bagley III.
Hield, who laced up in a pair of Bahamian flag-colored Kobe Bryant shoes, came off the bench and played 24 minutes on the night. He finished 8-for-16 from the field including 3-for-10 from three-point territory.
“It was fun – getting back out there and showing what we can do. Hopefully, we can watch some film and build off that before we enter the fire of the eight-game tournament” Hield said after the game.
The Bahamian checked into the game for Nemanja Bjelica with 5:39 remaining in the first quarter. To no one’s surprise, Hield’s first shot attempt was a three-point attempt, almost two minutes after checking in. He missed it. At the end of the quarter, Hield was 0-for-3 from the field, shaking off some rust after having missed over four months of basketball with the exception of a showing in a Skinz League game in Edmond, Oklahoma, last month. Shortly afterwards, it was announced that he tested positive for COVID-19, and thereby missed the start of training camp in the resumption of basketball for the Kings.
With a minute left in the second quarter against the Heat on Wednesday night, the sharp shooter finally got on the scoreboard when he connected on a three-pointer on an assist from Cory Joseph. About 50 seconds later, he made a step back jumper – the last field goal of the half, finishing with five points at the intermission. The Heat led 65-44 at that point.
“I’m really trying to get my legs under me,” Hield said. “I was out for about three weeks, so to make up, I’ve been putting in extra work – moving back and forth, just trying to find my groove and get more comfortable out there. In this environment, you have to be mentally locked in. There are no fans to shift the momentum. It’s definitely something that we have to get used to, but these are the times we’re living in.”
It was a better second half for the reigning NBA Mountain Dew Three-Point Champion and the Kings. Held quickly got into a rhythm and the Kings came back in the game. Hield scored nine points in the third quarter, with his final bucket of the quarter coming with 1:23 left to bring the Kings to within four points, 70-66.
The Kings came close but were unable to go ahead in the fourth quarter and the Heat held on for the win.
This was the first of three scrimmage games for the Kings. They will play the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday and close off the scrimmage games with a match-up against the Los Angeles Clippers next week Monday.
Their season restarts next week Friday, July 31, against the San Antonio Spurs, at 8 p.m.
DeAndre Ayton, the other Bahamian NBA player, made his first appearance last night when his Phoenix Suns played their first scrimmage game against the Utah Jazz. No scores were available up to press time. Ayton and the Suns also have scrimmage games with the Boston Celtics on Sunday and the defending NBA Champions Toronto Raptors on Tuesday. The Suns’ opening game of the restart will be on July 31 when they play the Washington Wizards at 4 p.m.
The Kings and the Suns were two of 22 teams chosen for the NBA restart after the regular season was stopped back on March 11 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. All the teams are housed in a single-site campus at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, under strict COVID-19 conditions and protocols.