Harrison Barnes and Mike Brown bemoan Kings’ defensive mistakes against Grizzlies

Sacramento’s start of the 2022-23 NBA season in hopes of ending a 16-year playoff drought is not going as intended.

Without a win so far this young season, the Kings (4-0) suffered another heavy loss, this time to the Memphis Grizzlies (4-1), a loss that veteran forward Harrison Barnes says could have been avoided.

“I mean, it’s really frustrating,” Barnes told reporters after the Kings’ 125-110 loss to the Grizzlies at the Golden 1 Center Thursday night. “If you look at the tape the next day, it’s like, ‘OK, those were the things that struck us, right?’

“And give credit to Memphis tonight and the teams we’ve played, but for the most part it’s not like people are playing historic games against us.”

Aside from the Warriors scoring 89 points in the first half of Sunday’s matchup — a record the Kings would like to forget — many of the games Sacramento has played have remained relatively close.

“These are winnable games and if you think about 0-4, the result could be different if you do a few things differently,” continued Barnes. “I think that doesn’t sit well with me, with the team, that these are things that can be fixed as a collective if we focus on that.

“Until we do that, it will be the same outcome.”

Though the Kings had more second chance points than the Grizzlies (15-12) and fast break points (14-12), the Grizzlies dominated within the color and posted 66 points.

Kings coach Mike Brown noted that the Grizzlies seemed to get into the paint at will, which was concerning considering protecting the paint is one of the team’s defensive tenets for the season.

“We gave up center drive after center drive after center drive, and that’s one of our staples,” Brown said. “That was one of our most important elements in defence. We can’t let the ball get in the middle and it seemed like every other game the ball got there and when it got to the middle of the floor they got a goal scored.”

Additionally, Grizzlies center Steven Adams had seven offensive rebounds while the Kings team had nine overall.

Also, Memphis passed Sacramento from the 3-point line, hitting 14 of 33 shots (42.4 percent) compared to Sacramento’s 31.6 percent (12 of 38).

In that vein, Barnes, 30, mentioned how the team misses the little things like crashing the boards or defending without fouling, leading to the opportunities Brown alluded to.

“I think it starts with rebounding, but also physical exertion with no fouling,” continued Barnes. “It’s reach-ins from one to five and I think when you start marching a team early into the bonus you have to stay away from it, they’re still attacking and just living in the paint.”

Interestingly, the Kings shot more free throws than the Grizzlies, 22-18, and hit them with a higher clip (18-13).

Despite this advantage, Barnes noted that this young Sacramento side tends to try to make “home run plays” rather than relax and trust their system.

This, in turn, leads to sections where the kings outperform their opponents, but then disintegrate, allowing said opponent to take the lead and, like tonight, take advantage of mistakes, leading to more frustration.

“I find it frustrating especially being at home and not being able to get a win,” said Barnes. “It was tough, but this group, we’ll find out.”

On the plus side, it appeared that the chemistry between De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk is already top notch as the two bond through two monster ally oops.

Overall, Fox had 27 points, six rebounds and two assists, while Monk had 15 points and seven assists off the bench.

Rookie Keegan Murray also made his first start and performed well, recording 18 points and six rebounds in 39 minutes.

RELATED: Why Brown isn’t pushing panic just yet in the Kings’ 0-3 start

Overall, Brown says the Kings need to have the mental toughness to survive that 4-0 start and he believes the group will handle it right and keep fighting to improve.

“If I had to bet, at least from what I’ve experienced from this group so far, we’re going to come out with momentum. But it’s not going to be easy,” Brown concluded.

The next opportunity for the Kings to show their resolve is on October 29 when they take on the Miami Heat at the Golden 1 Center at 3 p.m. PT.


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