The Sacramento Kings opened their 2020-21 exhibition season with a rather sour 102-127 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers Friday night at the Moda Center.
It was pretty apparent from the opening tip that the unintentional game plan was to jack up as many three-pointers as possible (50) and watch the opponent run through wide open shooting drills and finish with a blistering 51 percent from the field, including 50 percent from deep.
But wait, there were some positives. The team clearly has embraced a fast-paced style reminiscent of the 2018-19 squad that literally ran their opponents off the court. The plan is to get the ball up court within four seconds and see what options they have rather than walk it up and allow the defense to get set. The ball was also zipping around efficiently when the starters were on the court leading to 15 assists in the first half.
The three-point shot will obviously be heavily utilized. 15 out of the 16 Kings that saw action Friday night took at least one shot from deep. Even Richaun Holmes threw one up. He missed it, but it looks like he has been given the green light to shoot it if the opportunity presents itself.
Of course, Buddy Hield is never shy to shoot and he finished with a team high 23 points including five threes. He looks like this return to a fast style of play will suit him just fine.
The test will be to see what adjustments head coach Luke Walton and the team makes for their rematch on Sunday. If we see the same bad habits repeated, it will not bode well, but I suspect we will see a different approach to defense and a more limited number of ill-advised three-pointers.
Marvin Bagley (Covid protocol) and Hassan Whiteside (strained calf) did not travel with the team and will not see any game action until at least the team’s Tuesday home game against the Golden State Warriors.