SALT LAKE CITY — Harrison Barnes scored 33 points to lead the Sacramento Kings to a 130-114 victory over the Utah Jazz in the season opener for both teams.
Domantas Sabonis added 22 points and 12 rebounds and De´Aaron Fox chipped in 18 points for the Kings. Malik Monk dished out a team-high seven assists off the bench.
Sacramento buried Utah from the perimeter, knocking down 19 of 51 3-pointers. The Kings shot 46 per cent from the field overall. The Jazz played a zone trying to contain Sabonis around the basket. It led to plenty of open looks for Barnes and other shooters.
“We saw it a lot last year,” said Kings forward Keegan Murray, who made four 3s and finished with 15 points. “We were able to go through that film and find different things that worked, and we were able to see a lot of shots go in,” Murray added according to AP.
Jordan Clarkson led the Jazz with 24 points and six assists. Lauri Markkanen tallied 18 points and 10 rebounds and John Collins finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds in his Utah debut.
The Jazz had won six straight season openers. Utah has now dropped four of its last five regular season games against Sacramento.
Perimeter shooting made all the difference both ways. The Jazz attempted 23 fewer 3-pointers than the Kings and knocked down 10 fewer outside baskets.
“That´s a moment where the math is against you,” Utah coach Will Hardy said. “I think in general we really struggled in transition to get matched and to contain the ball. Our communication was not very sharp.”
Barnes knocked down his first eight shots – including four 3-pointers – and scored 27 points before halftime. The veteran forward went 10 of 11 from the field in the first half.
Barnes offered a preview of what lay ahead when he made four baskets to spark a 10-0 run that put Sacramento up 32-21 late in the first quarter. Utah missed five shots and committed four turnovers over a four-minute scoreless drought, opening a door for Barnes and the Kings.
Sacramento led by as many as 19, going ahead 69-50 after Barnes and Sabonis combined for seven baskets in a four-minute stretch of the second quarter.
“Defensively, we didn´t make it tough on them,” Clarkson said.
Utah cut the deficit to 74-65 early in the third quarter behind back-to-back layups from Talen Horton-Tucker and Walker Kessler but drew no closer.
Sacramento regained a double-digit lead on a 3-pointer by Fox and eventually led by as many as 23 points in the fourth quarter.
“It´s important just from a confidence standpoint to go out there and start the season the right way, especially getting a win on the road,” Barnes said. “In order to be a good team, you have to win on the road.”
Sacramento coach Mike Brown did not talk about his team´s win in his postgame remarks, choosing instead to express his sorrow over a mass shooting in Lewiston, Maine that left at least 16 dead.
“It´s sad that we sit here and watch this happen time after time after time after time and nobody does anything about it,” Brown said. “It´s a sad day for our country. It´s a sad day in this world.”
Elsewhere, Luka Doncic had 33 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists and the Dallas Mavericks spoiled the NBA debut of No. 1 draft pick Victor Wembanyama, beating the San Antonio Spurs 126-119.
“It was fun,” Doncic said. “We knew the whole building was going to be loud. He´s probably one of the best prospects to enter the NBA. It was fun. For me, personally, I love challenges. So, that was a fun challenge.”
Dallas forced two turnovers in the final minute to preserve the victory. Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving added 22 points and Grant Williams added 17 points in the season opener for both teams.
“It was a hall of fame performance like (Doncic) does almost every night,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. “He was great. Kyrie wasn´t bad either. So, the two future hall of famers got us.”
Doncic was cleared to play an hour before tipoff after being listed as questionable with a left calf sprain, and the All-Star guard played 32 minutes.
Devin Vassell had 23 points to lead San Antonio. Keldon Johnson added 17 and Wembanyama had 15 points.
Wembanyama scored nine points in the final seven minutes after struggling with foul trouble in the fourth quarter. The rookie was 6 for 9 from the field and had five rebounds and two assists and a block in 23 minutes.
“One of the toughest things for a player is you get into foul trouble,” Popovich said.
“You never get in a rhythm and you´re in and out of the game and that sort of thing. So, I thought his maturity showed even at a young age where he came in with the last, I think, seven minutes and just played.”
The Spurs started quickly, outscoring the Mavericks 43-36 in the opening quarter. San Antonio shot 6 for 12 on 3-pointers and shot 62 per cent from the field.
Dallas responded by controlling the second half. “We just locked down on it,” Dallas rookie center Dereck Lively II said.
“We feel like there were a lot of long rebounds (and) a lot of missed opportunities. There was miscommunication (and) a lot of back door cuts and cuts to the rim. I feel as the game went on, we were just making sure we were locked down on that so that we could be able to walk out with a win.”
Wembanyama dazzled in the preseason, but he never battled foul trouble as he did against the Mavericks.
“For me, it was just a matter of being physical,” Williams said. “Make sure he doesn´t get to his spots, making sure that any shot that he takes you challenge and you swipe so you affect the shot even down low.
“Just playing with great energy and physicality so he feels off balance a little bit.”