The Kings faced a short-handed opponent Monday at Golden 1 Center and played like it, snapping their four-game losing streak with a convincing 122-107 win over the Atlanta Hawks led by veteran forward Harrison Barnes.
The 31-year-old finished the victory with a team-high 32 points on 10-of-20 shooting from the field and 4 of 8 from 3-point range — the first time Barnes has scored more than 20 points since Nov. 22 against the New Orleans Pelicans.
It was a shining moment in a 2023-24 NBA season filled with inconsistency from Barnes, even against a Hawks team that was missing Trae Young. And after the game, Kings coach Mike Brown explained what he saw in the performance.
“I thought the pop was there,” Brown told reporters. “He was really aggressive. If he felt like he was open, he stepped in and shot the ball … Seeing him be as aggressive as he was tonight was good, because we needed it with the way that our Big Three shot the ball. And then on top of that, once he got going like that we started going to him.
“And down the stretch, we basically went to him three or four straight times or called his number three or four straight times, and good things happen almost every time he touched the ball.”
De’Aaron Fox (12), Keegan Murray (13) and Domantas Sabonis (14) combined for 39 points in the win, with the latter also hauling in 21 rebounds. Barnes was the offensive catalyst all night, and Malik Monk scored 13 points off the bench.
The game marked Barnes’ best outing since Sacramento’s 2023-24 NBA season opener against the Utah Jazz, when he scored 33 points and shot 5 of 7 from 3-point range. His latest showing could be enticing to other teams as the Feb. 8 NBA trade deadline approaches, as Barnes has been linked to rumors, or further solidify his spot with the Kings.
After the win, Monk hilariously credited Sacramento’s three-day break for Barnes’ scoring outburst.
But Brown, who is known to lightheartedly butt heads with Monk from time to time, begged to differ.
Brown, Monk and the rest of the Kings have a little bit of time to discuss what really got Barnes going before they take on the Golden State Warriors on Thursday at Chase Center and kick off a daunting seven-game road trip. Sacramento (24-18) finished its two-game stay at home with one win and one loss, and the team now is in seventh place in the Western Conference.
With the midway point of the season now behind them, the Kings look to finish strong and return to the NBA playoffs for the second consecutive year. And if there were any way to kick off the second half of their campaign, it’s with a performance like that from Barnes.