CHICAGO -- After six consecutive losses, Sacramento Kings coach Luke Walton decided to mix things up on Friday night.
And his gamble worked.
"We don't win that game tonight without Buddy," Walton said.
Hield contributed 21 points with eight rebounds off the bench in 23 minutes to help the Kings snap their losing skid with a 98-81 victory. That included pouring in 11 points in the third quarter.
Granted, the Bulls were without Lauri Markkanen (right pelvis stress reaction), Wendell Carter Jr. (right ankle sprain), Otto Porter Jr. (left foot fracture) and Daniel Gafford (right thumb dislocation). But the win was much needed inside the locker room for the Kings, who celebrated with Lou Malnati's pizza as a Chi-Town treat.
"It's not a punishment to Buddy at all," Walton, who is 16-29 in his first season as Kings coach, said before the game. "Buddy's been great, and we expect for him to great for us again tonight."
Hield, who signed a four-year, $94 million extension in October, entered Friday averaging 20 points in 34.4 minutes per game, but was struggling with his shot. A career 40.5% 3-point shooter, Hield was down to just 36% from 3 and 41.6% from the field. He went 7-for-13 from the field in Chicago, though, and knocked down five of his nine treys.
"He was ready. He came out, he made shots, he defended well," said Kings guard De'Aaron Fox, who posted 18 points with seven assists. "Everybody was fine with it, he was fine with it and there was nothing big made of it. We all still came to the game ready to play basketball."
Before Friday, Hield had started every game for the Kings since last season. Hield said he learned the news on the morning of the Bulls game but had to remain professional despite the unexpected change.
"As a competitor, you've got to look at it because you want to figure out what's the reason of that," Hield said. "You never get a straight cut clear answer, but as a player, as a professional, you've got to go out there, lock in, and whatever the coach wants you to do you've got to go do it."
Since Dec. 17, Sacramento's 3-15 record had been the worst in the NBA, so Walton hoped to find answers in getting Bogdanovic more minutes. The third-year guard is averaging 14.5 points with 3.5 assists in 28 minutes this season and ended with 12 points and three rebounds Friday.
"It's not a permanent thing," Walton said pregame of the lineup change. "We'll see how this goes and move forward from this. It's about the team being ready to play and not being caught up in who's in the starting lineup or not."
"It's one game," Hield added. "You can't just go off one game."