By Antonio R. Harvey | OBSERVER Staff Writer
To kick off their fifth season in Golden 1 Center, the Sacramento Kings won their first preseason game by beating the Phoenix Suns 117-106 on Monday night.
Harrison Barnes had 18 points, four rebounds, and three assists in nearly 24 four minutes of court time for the Kings (1-0). Marvin Bagley added 15 points and five rebounds and Buddy Hield scored 14 points, pulled down four rebounds, and dished out four assists in a reserve role.
In a game with many highlights, the Kings were focused on getting their defense in order. Tyrese Haliburton, De’Aaron Fox, and Davion Mitchell had two steals each. Three other players collected at least one steal.
The steals, along with a few deflections, were significant considering not one of the Kings played more than 25 minutes. Barnes said it was about the Kings “maximizing” their efforts on the defensive end.
“You can’t control made or missed shots but we can control our defensive effort, communication and turnovers,” Barnes said. “Those are areas where we had a little bit of slippage last season that ended up being a lot of lost games. We started with a sense of urgency. We’re trying to do a better job of starting off games.”
Second-year guard Haliburton, in a starter’s role, had 11 points, five rebounds, and five assists for the Kings while rookie Davion Mitchell finished with seven points, three assists, and one of the Kings’ two blocked shots.
When Mitchell, the Kings No. 9 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, stepped on the floor, the team’s defense stepped it up a notch. The defense was clearly present when head coach Luke Walton incorporated three-guard lineups during the course of the game.
“I want those guys on the court a lot this season,” Walton said of guards Fox, Mitchell, Haliburton, and Hield. “I told them individually and as a group, I can play you guys as much as we can defend and rebound the basketball. On offense, we’re really going to be good. But we can only play if we can get (defensive) stops.”
The Suns (0-1) were without the services of Devin Booker and Chris Paul. Landry Shamet and Jalen Smith led Phoenix with 13 points apiece.
The Kings traveled to Los Angeles to face the Clippers on Oct. 6 at STAPLES Center in the first of two road preseason games. The following week, Sacramento moves on to Portland for a game with the Trail Blazers on Monday, Oct. 11 at Moda Center.
Sacramento’s four-game preseason schedule concludes at Golden 1 Center against the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday, Oct. 14. The encounter will be the first time the Kings will face the Lakers in the preseason since 2018.
Kings fans interested in ticket plans or becoming a Season Ticket Member for the 2021-20222 campating are encouraged to visit Kings.com/TicketPlans.