SACRAMENTO -- The 72-game 2020-21 NBA season is filled with all kinds of scheduling anomalies as the league attempts to work around the coronavirus pandemic. The Kings were faced with their first oddity on Sunday when they played the Phoenix Suns for the second time in two nights at Golden 1 Center.
After beating Chris Paul and Devin Booker on Saturday night, the Kings found the going much tougher the second time around. Sacramento led in the early third quarter, but when the Suns went on a run, the home team couldn’t keep up, falling by a final of 116-110.
Mikal Bridges had a strong showing for the Suns starting unit and Cameron Johnson hit the Kings for 21 points in 21 minutes off the bench in the win.
Here are three takeaways as the Kings took a step back and fell to 2-1 on the season.
Ran out of gas
The Kings and Suns were in a battle until the mid-third quarter when the home team stopped moving the ball and fell apart.
This was the first back-to-back of the season for both teams and Phoenix looked like they had more in the tank. They hit the Kings hard with a run and Sacramento had no answer.
All throughout training camp and preseason the Kings talked about playing with pace. They looked like a team running in mud against the Suns on Sunday.
Sacramento managed to attempt just 76 field goal attempts and they finished the night with just six fastbreak points, with three of those coming in the final minute of play.
The defense is clearly ahead of the offense at this point. With very few off days coming up, Luke Walton and his staff are going to have to use the games to coach the team through some of the early struggles.
Tyrese Haliburton isn’t fazed by anything in his first few NBA games. He makes good decisions, rotates on defense and in Sunday's matchup, he even hit a few 3-pointers.
In just his third game, Haliburton scored 15 points on 5-of-7 shooting from the field and 3-for-4 from 3-point range. He added six assists and failed to register a turnover in 23 minutes of action.
There is a confidence and maturity to his game that you rarely see from a first year player. The fact that he wasn’t given an opportunity to play in a Summer League or have a conventional offseason building up to the season adds to how impressive the 20-year-old has been through three games.