What we learned as Duarte impresses in Kings’ preseason OT loss originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area
SACRAMENTO – The Kings welcomed some familiar faces to Golden 1 Center on Sunday for their first preseason home game of the year.
For the ninth time in six months, the Kings faced their Northern California neighbor, the Golden State Warriors — but this time for some preseason action. The Warriors looked a little different Sunday than they did in April when the two teams met in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.
Golden State was without Steph Curry and Draymond Green for Sunday’s game. New Warriors point guard and 19-year NBA veteran Chris Paul, who was acquired by Golden State this summer, also sat out. For the Kings, 7-foot-1 center JaVale McGee (right wrist soreness) didn’t play.
And just like in their seven-game playoff series, Sunday’s contest did not disappoint.
Here are the takeaways from the Kings’ 121-115 overtime loss:
Switching things up
Since his first day as the Kings’ head coach, Mike Brown has emphasized the importance of defense and physicality.
One year later, he isn’t pleased with where they’re at on that side of the ball. So, he opted to start Chris Duarte over Kevin Huerter on Sunday because Brown was impressed with Duarte’s defensive effort in Sacramento’s 109-101 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers last week.
The move didn’t come as a huge surprise, given that Brown took guys out — no matter who they were — the second they didn’t do what was asked of them defensively last season.
And on Sunday, Duarte was rewarded for finally answering Brown’s year-long plea.
The impact was almost immediate. The first possession of the game, Duarte connected with his former Indiana Pacers teammate Domantas Sabonis for a 3-point play. After that, Sacramento’s offense was nearly flawless with Duarte in the mix.
The Kings exploded from 3-point range, with four of five starters taking turns from behind the arc. They were 6 of 7 from deep to start the game.
Duarte’s on-ball defense and physicality led to success on the other end of the floor until he exited the game in the second quarter and was later ruled out with a left knee injury. After the game, Brown said Duarte has a small bone bruise in his left knee, but the MRI came back clean.
The third-year pro finished with five points on 2-of-5 shooting from the field and 1 of 1 from deep, with one rebounds and two assists in 12 minutes.
There’s no telling if Brown’s change in the lineup will be permanent, but players certainly can take it as a warning for the regular season.
When it seemed like the Kings couldn’t miss a shot to start the game, they couldn’t buy a bucket to start the second quarter.
Sacramento showcased its 3-point shooting in the opening quarter. Twenty-four of its 38 first-quarter points came from deep, as the Kings finished an efficient 8 of 11 from downtown.
But the spark died out after the first 12 minutes of action, and the Kings missed all seven of their 3-point attempts in the second quarter.
The Kings scored just three points over the span of the first five minutes and 25 seconds of the quarter. After a timeout was called, The Kings regrouped and reenergized on the offensive side of the floor, finding other ways to score after realizing their 3-ball wasn’t falling anymore.
Their next 17 points came from inside the arc.
Still, their early-quarter flaws were too much to overcome, as they were outscored 31-21 in the quarter.
Back like he never left
Domantas Sabonis led the league in double-doubles last season, and he didn’t skip a beat Sunday.
The All-NBA center finished the game with a team-high 19 points on 8-of-11 shooting from the field and a perfect 2 of 2 from deep, adding 11 rebounds and five assists in 25 minutes.
The last time Sabonis faced this team, they weren’t so friendly to him. From scuffles with Green to battles in the paint with Warriors rebound machine Kevon Looney, Sabonis didn’t let the past impact his play.
His consistency helped carry the Kings over a playoff-less hump and reach historic new heights.
It appears nothing will change this season.