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Kings Offense Shines, Defense Impresses In Preseason Opener

(Chris Watkins/Sports 1140 KHTK)

Harrison Barnes, Tyrese Haliburton, Buddy Hield & Marvin Bagley III finished in double-figures during Monday’s win over Phoenix

After nearly five long months of waiting, Sacramento Kings basketball made its return on Monday night as the Kings faced the Phoenix Suns in their first exhibition of the preseason.

Fans filed into Golden 1 Center–many for the first time since before the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered arenas around the world in March of 2020–to see De’Aaron Fox, Tyrese Haliburton and company face a Suns team that was just two wins away from an NBA championship this summer.

With future Hall of Fame guard Chris Paul and All-Star sharpshooter Devin Booker out on Monday, the Kings were able to get off to a strong start in the first-half behind a red-hot Harrison Barnes and did not look back en route to a 117-106 victory to open preseason play.

Barnes did not waste any time knocking off the offseason rust, scoring 10 points on four-of-four shooting from the field in the first quarter to pace the Kings to a 30-23 lead heading into the second period.

Sacramento used the much-rumored three-guard lineup early, with De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield and rookie guard Davion Mitchell getting time together on the floor before Tyrese Haliburton subbed back in for Fox to join Hield and Mitchell.

Recently-acquired center Tristan Thompson and the defensive-minded Mitchell helped force four Phoenix turnovers in the first half, with Mitchell pressuring Suns guard Cameron Payne an out-of-bounds turnover much to the delight of the Golden 1 Center faithful.

The Sacramento offense would show its muscle in the second quarter, leading by as many as 18 points en route to taking a 61-47 lead into the halftime break.

Harrison Barnes looked to be in midseason form in the first half, scoring 16 points on six-of-seven from the field and four-of-five from beyond the three-point line. Sacramento was not shy with the three-ball early, converting nine of 24 long-balls over the first two quarters.

The long-awaited three-guard lineup that features De’Aaron Fox, Tyrese Haliburton and Davion Mitchell was finally put into action in the third quarter, with Mitchell forcing a turnover that led to a big dunk from Haliburton to put the Kings up 75-59 with less than seven minutes remaining in the third quarter.

Haliburton would take control of the offense and lead the Kings to a 90-71 lead heading into the fourth quarter after delivering back-to-back dimes to Buddy Hield and Tristan Thompson to all but put the game out of reach.

Over 24 minutes of action, Haliburton finished with 11 points (four-of-11 from the field), five rebounds, five assists (team-high) and one steal in an all-around solid showing from the sophomore guard.

Haliburton was in control of the offense for a large portion of the night and looked very comfortable, something that head coach Luke Walton could opt to run often this season in order to let De’Aaron Fox get free away from the ball in certain matchups.

Walton stated pre-game that most of the core guys would not play more than 25-30 minutes on Monday, meaning that the game would be closed out by the youngsters.

The Kings would hold on to defeat the Suns by a final of 117-106 in what was an overall strong performance in the first showing of the preseason.

Rounding out the box score

Harrison Barnes would lead all Kings scorers with 18 points on seven-of-12 shooting from the field (four-of-nine from three-point land) to go along with four rebounds and three assists over 23 minutes.

Buddy Hield was letting it fly on Monday, finishing the game five-of-15 from the field and four-of-13 from the three-point arc to score 14 points over 23 minutes. Hield was active in other aspects of the game, dishing out four assists–including an impressive left-handed lob to Marvin Bagley III–and grabbing four boards.

Marvin Bagley III scored 15 points on six-of-nine shooting from the field to go along with five rebounds over 20 minutes, while Richaun Holmes added eight points and eight rebounds in the win.

Rookie guard Davion Mitchell scored seven points, dished out three assists and swiped two steals over 24 minutes in his first taste of NBA action. Mitchell was aggressive on defense and forced several Phoenix turnovers, a hopeful sign of what is to come from the young guard this season.

Terence Davis chipped in with nine points and five rebounds off of the bench, while Alex Len added six points and two rebounds. Tristan Thompson scored five points and pulled down four rebounds over 11 minutes in his Kings debut.

De’Aaron Fox had a quiet night on Monday, finishing with just six points, six rebounds and three assists over 24 minutes.

Notes

  • De’Aaron Fox, Tyrese Haliburton, Harrison Barnes, Marvin Bagley III and Richaun Holmes started Monday’s preseason opener, but head coach Luke Walton said pregame that the lineup will change over the final three tuneup games.
  • According to Walton, all players on the Kings roster were healthy and available for Monday’s game against Phoenix.

Coming Up

Sacramento will head south on Wednesday for a matchup with Paul George and a Los Angeles Clippers team that made it to Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals last season.

Be sure to get all of your coverage right here on Sports 1140 KHTK, starting with The Jason Ross Show at 3:00pm, Game Night with Scott Marsh & Hank “The High Flyer” Turner at 6:00pm and Kings Live Pregame at 7:00pm prior to a 7:30pm tip-off from STAPLES Center.

Sacramento Kings upcoming schedule

  • October 6th @ Los Angeles Clippers (Preseason)
  • October 11th @ Portland Trail Blazers (Preseason)
  • October 14 vs Los Angeles Lakers (Preseason)
  • October 20th @ Portland Trail Blazers (Regular season opener)
  • October 22nd vs Utah Jazz (Home opener)