In true Kings fashion, a battle to the very last possession led Sacramento to be victorious in their season opener on the road vs. the Portland Trail Blazers. It was a highly-productive night for Sacramento on the defensive end, but the night belonged to the red hot Harrison Barnes.
Barnes was practically everywhere last night, scoring 36 points on eight 3-point makes, both of which were career-highs for the Black Falcon. For Luke Walton, unloading the clip is now the expectation for the 10-year veteran.
“One of the things I’ve challenged Harrison on all summer and even in the last years is we need him to be aggressive,” Walton said. “And I don’t mean that as ‘go one-on-one and take a bunch of shots’ — I‘ve challenged Harrison to get eight 3s up a night. He’s a great shooter and there’s no reason he can’t make those shots.”
Clear, the challenge was accepted by the former NBA champion. Barnes looked fearless when stroking the ball from 3-point territory, and without his late game heroics, Sacramento would have easily added their first L of the season to the column.
A career-high night wasn’t the only record to be broken by Barnes in the season opener. According to Stats Perform, Barnes became the first player to score 35+ points and produce zero turnovers or personal fouls in a season opener since the NBA began to track turnovers as a statistic in 1977-78.
Trailing Barnes for scoring honors on Wednesday was De’Aaron Fox, who poured in 27 of his own points to contribute to Sacramento’s victory. Following the game, Fox had high praise for Barnes, saying “he’s one of the hardest workers” he’s known since he arrived in Sacramento.
“Coming into games, I like to shoot like an hour before … Harrison’s here like three hours, for hours before, and I ask him ‘Why do you do that?’” Fox said. “One, that’s what he did as a rookie — those are the time slots he had and Golden State — but for him, he likes to go through a full workout, get a good sweat in and then calm down a little before the game.”
It’s no surprise that an extended stay with the Splash Brothers inspired Barnes to hit the hardwood early on game days, but the 10-year man has proved himself to be a true professional in his own right as told by coaches, players and media alike. Sacramento will need to build on his consistency as they look to Barnes for that 3-point stroke all season long.