EditorsNote: adds to third graf; new fourth graf; rewords eighth graf
The Sacramento Kings won for the fourth straight time on Tuesday, beating the host Orlando Magic 107-99.
Sacramento’s 5-3 start this season is its best since a 5-3 opening to the 2014-15 season, and the Kings are two games over .500 for the first time since Nov. 28 that same season.
Buddy Hield led the Kings with a season-high 25 points and 11 rebounds, and Nemanja Bjelica added 21 points. Willie Cauley-Stein contributed 14 points and 11 rebounds.
Aaron Gordon paced the Magic with 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Terrence Ross scored 17 points, and Nikola Vucevic finished with 15 points and 15 boards.
Bjelica, a 30-year-old power forward from Serbia, entered Tuesday averaging 14.3 points per game in his first season in Sacramento. He never averaged more than 6.1 points per game in his first three years in the league with Minnesota.
Sacramento fell into a double-digit hole less than 10 minutes into the game, but a couple of big runs to end to the second and third quarters helped the Kings not only catch the Magic, but build a nice cushion. A 13-2 run to end the third gave the Kings an 85-72 lead going into the fourth quarter.
That was after Sacramento ended the first half on a 20-8 run. Bjelica had nine of the 20 points during the six-minute stretch, including a 3-pointer with 1:17 left in the half that gave the Kings their first lead of the game at 55-52. Bjelica had 13 points in the half, and Sacramento took a 59-56 lead into the break.
Ross provided Orlando with a spark off the bench. Ross entered the game midway through the first quarter and came up with back-to-back steals, then drilled a pair of 3-pointers in less than a minute to give the Magic a 27-16 lead. Ross then scored 11 more points in the fourth quarter, including a shot that brought the Magic within 94-91 with 4:50 left in the game. But Orlando couldn’t cut any further into the lead.
The Magic held Sacramento well below its season average 117.9 points per game, but Orlando, tied for dead last in the NBA in field-goal percentage, shot just 39.6 percent from the floor.
—Field Level Media