Sabonis does it all, but Kings fall to Warriors in preseason thriller

Oct 15, 2023, 9:20 PM | Updated: 9:56 pm

(Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)

(Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)

While it was only a tune-up for the regular season, Golden 1 Center picked up right where it left off from April’s thrilling NBA Playoff series between the Sacramento Kings and Golden State Warriors.

The ‘Battle for NorCal’ took center stage on Sunday night as the Kings and Warriors faced off in a preseason matchup in front of a capacity crowd, and although the game result didn’t matter, you could feel the energy in the building as fans prepare for the regular season to begin.

Sacramento and Golden State’s benches went shot-for-shot down the final stretch, but the Warriors pulled out a 121-115 win in overtime.

With three preseason games down and just two to go, here are some thoughts from another Kings vs. Warriors battle.

Hot And Cold

On the heels of a rough shooting performance during their previous exhibition against the Los Angeles Lakers (39% FG and 30% 3PT), the Kings had their breakthrough on the offensive end during an exciting opening quarter on Sunday night.

Sacramento jumped out to a 38-25 lead after shooting eight-of-12 (66%) from three-point range during the first period.

Domantas Sabonis put his mid-range and three-point stroke on display early, scoring 11 points on four-of-six shooting (two-for-two from deep) while grabbing five boards to set the tone early.

Sabonis struggled to consistently knock down looks from 15 feet or beyond from the basket last year, but the All-Star put countless hours of work into extending his range during the offseason and peeled back the curtain during Sunday’s game.

While Sabonis and the Kings dominated the start of Sunday’s game, the early success quickly faded as Sacramento struggled to knock down looks from the perimeter.

Following an eight-for-12 start from deep, the Kings missed their subsequent 14 attempts from beyond the arc before Keegan Murray’s triple with 5:55 remaining in the third quarter broke the dry spell.

Even though Sacramento struggled to convert triples for a large portion of the night, they ended up shooting 15-of-44 (34%) from three against Golden State.

Duarte Gets The Start, Then Exits Early

Although Mike Brown said during camp that he was unlikely to make changes to his starting lineup, there was indeed a change made to Sacramento’s first five on Sunday night.

Recently acquired wing Chris Duarte was placed into the starting lineup alongside De’Aaron Fox, Keegan Murray, Harrison Barnes, and Domantas Sabonis, while Kevin Huerter was moved to a bench role, something that Brown said was a change that was made to see how the former Indiana Pacer handles the defensive end.

Brown told the media that he liked seeing Duarte bring physicality to the table during Sacramento’s game against the Lakers, and the 26-year-old’s efforts resulted in a starting role during Sunday’s game against the Warriors.

“I thought [Duarte] was really good with that starting group in that first quarter,” Brown said postgame. “I thought defensively he was really good, and I thought offensively he played the right way.”

Duarte scored five points and converted his lone attempt from beyond the arc, but was forced to exit the game during the second quarter due to a left knee bone bruise.

While Duarte’s physicality earned him a spot start in Sunday’s exhibition, it’s unlikely that Brown shifts Huerter to the bench when the regular season tips off on October 25th–at least not until it’s apparent that changes are needed in addressing the team’s defensive struggles.

If Huerter is unable to contain his assignments on the defensive end, Brown could call on Duarte for certain matchups down the line if a change is needed.

Sabonis Does It All

One of–if not the–main storylines from Sacramento’s NBA Playoff series against the Warriors was how Domantas Sabonis struggled to play his game against physical center Kevon Looney.

In his first meeting with Looney since April 30th’s Game 7 loss, Sabonis came out swinging on Sunday and acted as a force on the offensive end of the floor.

Sabonis scored 11 of his 19 points during the first quarter, but the All-NBA big did it all on Sunday. The 27-year-old grabbed 11 boards, handed out five assists, and stayed out of foul trouble (two fouls) during his 25 minutes of action.

Those who watched to see how Sabonis would perform against Looney witnessed more physical play between the two, but Sabonis asserted himself in the paint and on the glass against the imposing big.

Looney and Sabonis will see each other often in the coming weeks. Sacramento will face the Warriors in another exhibition game on Wednesday, followed by three regular-season matchups before the end of November.

Injury Updates

JaVale McGee

The Kings announced on Sunday morning that center JaVale McGee would miss Sacramento’s game against the Warriors due to right wrist soreness.

At this point in the preseason, teams will be cautious with players dealing with nagging injuries, and it’s unlikely that McGee will be sidelined for an extended period–if at all past Sunday night. During his pregame press conference, Mike Brown stated that the seven-footer would suit up if it were a regular season game.

Consider McGee day-to-day going forward.

Keegan Murray

Murray returned from a one-game absence that was due to right thumb soreness.

Earlier this week, Mike Brown told the media that Murray would wear a wrap/brace on his right thumb as a “precaution.” The second-year forward was back in the lineup for Sunday’s game, and the organization does not view his injury as a concern.

Chris Duarte

Duarte exited Sunday’s game due to a left knee bone bruise and is considered day-to-day.

Brown relayed that Duarte had an MRI that came back clean and that the wing only suffered “a small bone bruise” during Sacramento’s loss to Golden State.

“Good news,” Brown said regarding Duarte’s status.

Quick Notes

  • De’Aaron Fox had another strong showing in this one, as ‘Swipa’ scored 17 points, grabbed five rebounds, passed out six assists, and swiped two steals over 25 minutes.
  • Rookie guard Colby Jones continues to make the most of his preseason minutes. The Xavier product scored 8 points (4/7 FG), dished out two assists, and played active defense. While Jones might not crack the opening night rotation, his two-way skillset could be an intriguing addition to Brown’s rotation if Sacramento needs another defensive presence in the lineup.
  • Second-year guard Keon Ellis hit three straight triples during the fourth quarter on Sunday night. Ellis finished with 11 points on three-of-five shooting from beyond the arc over 13 minutes.
  • Folsom native Jordan Ford’s clutch lay-in with just 11 seconds remaining helped force overtime in the guard’s first appearance in front of his hometown crowd.
  • Sacramento sent the Warriors to the foul line 40 times on Sunday night, and Golden State took advantage (33/40, 82%) while only taking 17 attempts of their own. Jonathan Kuminga out-shot matched the Kings’ 17 free-throw attempts by himself.
  • The Kings did a solid job of moving the basketball during Sunday’s game, as they out-assisted the Warriors 32-18. “That’s the way we play,” De’Aaron Fox said of the ball-movement postgame. “I think as a unit, the ball was moving around. That’s the way we know we can play.”

Next Game

Sacramento and Golden State will meet again on Wednesday night at Chase Center as both teams inch closer to the conclusion of their preseason schedules.

After facing the Warriors on Wednesday, the Kings will return home on Thursday to play the final game of the preseason against the Utah Jazz.

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.

Sacramento Kings 2023-24 Preseason Schedule

  • Wednesday, October 18th – Sacramento Kings @ Golden State Warriors – 7 PM PST
  • Thursday, October 19th – Sacramento Kings vs. Utah Jazz – 7 PM PST

Sacramento Kings 2023-24 Regular Season Schedule

  • Tuesday, October 24th – NBA regular season begins
  • Wednesday, October 25th – Sacramento Kings @ Utah Jazz – 6 PM PST (Season Opener)
  • Friday, October 27th – Sacramento Kings vs. Golden State Warriors – 7 PM PST (Home Opener)
  • Sunday, October 29th – Sacramento Kings vs. Los Angeles Lakers – 6 PM PST
  • Wednesday, November 1st – Sacramento Kings @ Golden State Warriors – 7 PM PST

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