Following rough start, Kevin Huerter comes through in big moment

Oct 30, 2023, 10:52 AM | Updated: 1:20 pm

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 29: Kevin Huerter #9 of the Sacramento Kings reacts after making a...

(Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

(Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

When reflecting on the Sacramento Kings’ memorable 2022-23 season, one of the more iconic scenes of the year came from Kevin Huerter.

Huerter’s clutch game-winner against the Utah Jazz, one that created one of the loudest crowd “pops” in Sacramento sports history, caused Kings fans to fall in love with the red-headed guard that goes by ‘Red Velvet.’

In his first season in Sacramento, Huerter was one of the best three-point shooters in the NBA as the guard was one of just six players to convert 200 or more attempts from beyond the arc at a 40 percent or better rate.

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However, as good as Huerter was during the regular season, the NBA Playoffs were a different story.

The regular season success and dribble-hand-off connection between Huerter and All-Star center Domantas Sabonis was blown up by an aggressive Golden State Warriors defense. Over seven games, Huerter shot just 20 percent from beyond the arc in a stunning drop-off for the sharpshooter.

Those struggles carried into this year’s preseason, as Huerter’s 22 percent average from three-point range caused many to question if it was time for head coach Mike Brown to make a change to his starting lineup–a move that would be an unfathomable development during last season’s path to the postseason.

Even after a sluggish start to the regular season that saw Huerter go one-of-ten from beyond the arc and struggle on the defensive end, Brown stuck with his longtime starting two-guard.

On Sunday night, the move to keep riding with Huerter in his usual role paid off for Brown and the Kings.

Huerter drilled the game-sealing triple during the closing seconds of Sacramento’s overtime thriller against the Los Angeles Lakers, and the sounds of Haddaway’s hit song “What Is Love” filled Golden 1 Center as 17,611 fans delivered another crowd burst.

What is love? Baby, don’t ‘Huert’ me. Baby, don’t ‘Huert’ me. No more.

Following a stretch of 14 games that dated back to April’s seven-game playoff series, Huerter had his moment that dropped the weight of those struggles from his shoulders.

Kevin Huerter on his breakthrough performance

“You could probably see the expression on my face. It’s really not a secret,” Huerter said of working through a cold stretch.

“Definitely just finding my rhythm during the preseason, still doing that the first couple of games. Obviously, just a little off offensively, but tonight, it was that last one–a small victory. That’s what you look for in a long season. It’s definitely a small victory.”

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The veteran finished the night with 12 points on three-of-seven shooting from beyond the arc to go along with seven rebounds and four assists over 36 minutes.

Huerter, who has also received criticism for his shortcomings on the defensive end, picked up two blocks–one coming on an Anthony Davis attempt near the basket late in the fourth quarter–en route to claiming the Defensive Player of the Game chain and being the first member of the team to light the beam at Golden 1 Center following a game this season.

“I thought Kevin had a hell of a game,” Mike Brown said of Huerter’s efforts following Sunday’s win over the Lakers. “He had seven rebounds and two big blocks. He got his blocks the right way.”

Brown elaborated on the reduced minutes for Huerter during the first two games of the season, stating that the defense is critical in determining who will be on the floor late.

“We always know that Kevin can shoot the ball. This has never been about him shooting the ball,” Brown said. Where he needs to lock in, and not just him, everybody needs to lock in on the defensive end of the floor. It’s hard because we feel like we have a lot of guys that can play. It’s healthy competition for him.”

Huerter’s breakthrough performance came at an ideal time as the Kings will need to weather at least the next three-to-four games with De’Aaron Fox, who avoided a serious ankle injury but will be sidelined for at least a week.

While it was only one game, sometimes that’s all that it takes for a talented marksmen like Huerter to get back into a rhythm and tap back into his 2022-23 form.

When is the next Sacramento Kings Game?

Did somebody ask for more Kings vs. Warriors?

For what seems like the 100th time over the past 101 games, Sacramento and Golden State will meet once again on Wednesday night–the second time over the first four games of the regular season.

Be sure to tune in right here on Sactown Sports 1140 for all of your Kings vs. Warriors coverage, beginning at 5:30 PM PST on Game Night before a 7:00 PM PST tip-off from downtown San Francisco.

Upcoming Sacramento Kings Schedule

  • Wednesday, November 1st – Sacramento Kings @ Golden State Warriors – 7 PM PST
  • Saturday, November 4th – Sacramento Kings @ Houston Rockets – 5 PM PST
  • Monday, November 6th – Sacramento Kings @ Houston Rockets – 5 PM PST
  • Wednesday, November 8th – Sacramento Kings vs. Portland Trail Blazers – 7 PM PST
  • Friday, November 10th – Sacramento Kings vs. Oklahoma City Thunder** – 7 PM PST

** NBA In-Season Tournament Group Play

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