For the first team in a year and a half, basketball with fans is finally back in Sacramento!
The Kings led comfortably for the majority of the game and cruised to 117-106 victory over a Phoenix Suns team that was playing without its two best players, Devin Booker and Chris Paul.
It is dangerous to take too much away from one preseason performance, but Monday night was certainly an encouraging season debut for Sacramento.
The Kings started the game with a starting lineup of De’Aaron Fox, Tyrese Haliburton, Harrison Barnes, Marvin Bagley III, and Richaun Holmes. Prior to the game, Luke Walton mentioned that he would experiment with lineups this preseason, but it is interesting that this was the first lineup he chose.
The first sub of the game was rookie Davion Mitchell who replaced Haliburton with about six minutes left in the first quarter. Mitchell was a mixed bag offensively, but really shined on defense and was a general positive for the Kings on the floor finishing with a team-high + 20 plus-minus rating.
The Kings ran a lot of three-guard lineups on Monday, with three of Fox, Haliburton, Hield, and Terence Davis seemingly always on the court. The three-guard lineups were really productive, helping Sacramento get a lot of open three-point looks and set up fastbreak opportunities.
On most missed Phoenix shots, the Kings were doing a good job of getting the ball right to their guards who led them in transition. If Monday was any indication, three-guard lineups may end up being the norm for Sacramento.
Bagley was the main beneficiary of this, finishing with 15 points on 6 of 9 shooting, with the majority of those shots coming via easy buckets in transition. Bagley still looked lost most of the time on defense out there, but on offense, Bagley was really thriving as a transition threat.
The Kings took a whopping 47 attempts from the three on the game, with Hield and Barnes taking 22 of those attempts. Barnes was his typical, efficient self finishing with a team-high 18 points on 7 of 12 shooting.
Fox and Haliburton weren’t the most efficient version of themselves but still had a few strong moments. Haliburton looked really excited to be back on the Golden 1 Center court, as threw three different no-look passes leading to easy buckets.
The game became a blowout in the early stages of the fourth and the Kings took out the regulars halfway through the fourth quarter. The Kings then subbed in the 2021 Summer League Champions to close out the remainder of the game.
Chimezie Metu hit a pair of threes and Louis King continued to look competent in those minutes, but other than that there was some sloppy, preseason basketball being played in those last several minutes.
Overall, Monday was the type of performance that inspires some major optimism heading into the season, but alas it was a preseason against a team missing their two best players.
Let’s see how the Kings follow up this strong performance when they head to Los Angeles on Wednesday to face off with the Clippers at 7:30 p.m.