SACRAMENTO KINGS

The Beam Is Back: Kings thump Jazz in season-opener

Oct 25, 2023, 8:48 PM | Updated: 8:57 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH - OCTOBER 25: Jordan Clarkson #00 of the Utah Jazz shoots over De'Aaron Fox #5...

(Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

(Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

No need to be alarmed, citizens of Sacramento. That bright purple light you’re seeing means that the Sacramento Kings are officially back in action.

Sacramento’s record-setting offense from last year picked up right where they left off during Wednesday’s 130-114 season-opening win over the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City,

The Kings completely controlled this game from the tip, with Utah’s largest lead being a one-point margin during the mid-way point of the first quarter. Sacramento’s largest lead was 23, and the cushion never shrunk past 14 points down the stretch.

A lot of what we saw from the Kings in Utah was familiar in reference to where the Kings left off in the spring, but there were plenty of new faces and different approaches during Sacramento’s first showing of the 2023-24 season.

As the new-and-improved beam shines over the 916 for the first time since late April, let’s dive into some takeaways from an overall fun return to action for the reigning Pacific Division champions.

A Historic Night

Last season, the Kings set an NBA record with an offensive rating of 119.4–the best in the league’s history.

If you were wondering how Sacramento would follow up a record-setting 2022-23 season, you quickly got your answer on Wednesday.

Thanks to red-hot shooting from beyond the arc, the Kings steadily kept space between themselves and the Jazz during their season-opening win, and three-point shooting would be the main takeaway in this one.

Sacramento finished the night 19-for-51 (37%) from deep during the win, breaking a franchise record for made three-point field goals during a season-opener (17 made triples in both 2021-22 and 2022-23’s openers).

Five players hit multiple triples for the Kings during the win, with Harrison Barnes (five), Keegan Murray (four), and Chris Duarte (three) leading the attack from the perimeter.

Black Falcon Spreads His Wings

It didn’t take long for Sacramento to set the tone early on Wednesday, and Harrison Barnes was the driving force behind the strong start.

Barnes scored 13 points on five-of-five shooting from the field (two-of-two from three-point range) during the first quarter to help the Kings push their lead to nine heading into the second quarter.

‘The Black Falcon’ was an absolute flamethrower during the first half, scoring 27 points–just one point shy of Barnes’ career-high for points scored in a single half–on 10-of-11 shooting from the field and a perfect five-of-five from three-point range over 17 minutes.

With Barnes setting the nets on fire, Sacramento’s offense thrived en route to taking a 72-58 lead at the break.

According to the Kings, Barnes is only the second Kings player to score 27 points in the first half in any game of the season since 1996-97, joining Isaiah Thomas (27 points at OKC, 1/19/14).

With Utah’s defense paying extra close attention to the veteran forward during the second half, Barnes’ offensive outburst came to a halt in the third quarter–but the damage had already been done.

Barnes scored 27 of his 33 points during the first half, finishing the night just three points shy of his career-high of 36 points (also scored during a season-opener in 2021).

The 31-year-old went 11-of-16 from the field, five-of-seven from deep, and six-for-six from the charity stripe over 33 minutes of play.

Barnes, who inked a three-year extension with Sacramento before free agency opened up in July, showed what he is capable of when in a rhythm–and goodness, was he feeling it in Salt Lake City.

Welcome To The NBA, Sasha

At long last, Sasha Vezenkov laced up to make his NBA debut on Wednesday night.

The reigning EuroLeague MVP didn’t waste any time upon checking in during the first quarter, as Vezenkov drilled his first attempt from three-point range to get on the board quickly.

Vezenkov looked much more comfortable on both ends of the floor during his debut than he did during Sacramento’s five preseason games, which is an excellent sign for the 28-year-old rookie going forward.

Over 16 minutes of action, Vezenkov scored eight points on three-of-six shooting (two-of-five from three-point range) and swiped two steals.

It will be interesting to see how Vezenkov fits into Mike Brown’s rotation once Trey Lyles returns from his absence, but the Bulgarian looked very comfortable on both ends during Sacramento’s win.

Dunk of the Year… in Game 1?

Earlier this week, Keegan Murray told reporters that he and De’Aaron Fox are having a competition to see who can take home Sacramento’s Dunk of the Year this season.

Unfortunately for Murray and Fox, Malik Monk also plays for the Kings.

Monk was his usual spark-plug self on Wednesday, as the Sixth Man of the Year candidate finished the night with 10 points, seven assists, and one incredible poster dunk over 23 minutes of action.

Mr. Double-Double

Last year’s NBA leader in double-doubles picked up right where he left off on Wednesday night.

Domantas Sabonis secured a double-double before the end of the third quarter, and the big man did so while blocking two shots in the process.

Sabonis finished the night with 22 points on eight-of-15 shooting while pulling down a game-high 12 rebounds to go along with five assists over 32 minutes.

Notes

  • Chris Duarte (nine points) and JaVale McGee (eight points on 4/4 shooting) provided the Kings with a boost off the bench
  • Although Sacramento got outscored 64-48 in the paint and out-rebounded 64-52, the high-powered offense overcame the disadvantage. The Kings can’t bank on out-gunning opponents every night and will need to fortify their interior defense in the future.
  • De’Aaron Fox struggled from the floor (6/18 FG and 1/7 3PT), but the All-NBA guard still managed to string together a strong stat-line in Utah: 18 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 steal, 1 block

Injury Report

Trey Lyles was ruled out of Wednesday’s game due to a left calf strain, although the Kings do not believe the forward will be sidelined for an extended period. Lyles is considered day-to-day.

When Is The Next Kings Game?

Sacramento will return home to face the rival Golden State Warriors on Friday night in a game that ESPN will carry nationally.

The meeting between the Kings and Warriors will mark the 11th time over Sacramento’s past 15 games that these two Northern California heavyweights have met.

Friday’s home opener will be the Kings’ first of three matchups against Golden State during the season’s opening month, with the teams set to meet in Golden State next Wednesday, November 1st.

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 Sacramento.

Sacramento Kings 2023-24 Regular Season Schedule

  • 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
  • Saturday, November 4th – Sacramento Kings @ Houston Rockets – 5 PM PST
  • Monday, November 6th – Sacramento Kings @ Houston Rockets – 5 PM PST

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