Kings cannot contain Barnes
'Sac Town's Finest' scores a career-high 32 for the Warriors.
By Sam Amick - Bee Staff Writer
Published 12:00 am PST Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Story appeared in SPORTS section, Page C1
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OAKLAND -- The absence of Jason Richardson was supposed to be a blessing.
The Kings, to this point, had made a habit out of catching each opponent at full health, with various superstars missing time before or after but never during their Sacramento stop. And this, as a reminder, was one of the worst Kings-killers of them all, a J-Rich who routinely got J-Richer when it came to the Golden State-Kings Northern California rivalry game.
But with Richardson out because of a bruised knee, former Kings forward and local product Matt Barnes took it to his old bosses like he never has, posting career highs of 32 points and 11 rebounds as the Warriors ran over the Kings in a whole new way, 126-113, at Oracle Arena on Tuesday night.
"It felt good, especially doing it against Sacramento," Barnes said. "It's always fun to play against guys I work out with in the summer and hang out with, but it was more important to get on track."
During the summer, Barnes had no NBA jobs to speak of. He would have come the Kings' way in a heartbeat. But he wound up with the Warriors as training camp neared, then made the team on a non-guaranteed contract with a strong camp and exhibition season.
For one night, Barnes -- the Del Campo High School graduate who has a tattoo on his left arm reading "Sac Town's Finest" -- could have worn a matching one on his right arm with temporary ink, perhaps reading "Oak Town's Finest."
The player so long labeled a non-shooter hit 13 of 22, including 6 of 9 three-pointers. In the first quarter, he scored nine points that were, simultaneously, everything the Kings wanted and didn't want.
The Kings' focus coming in was to avoid a repeat of their Nov. 16 visit, in which the Warriors put up 40 first-quarter points by pushing the throttle from the start. This time, the Kings were successful in their transition defense. It was their halfcourt defense that was exposed, as point guard Baron Davis, the focal point, drove the lane repeatedly and found shooters throughout. The Warriors, consequently, tied a Kings opponents' franchise record with 15 three-pointers on 27 attempts and shot 53.1 percent (43 for 81) overall.
"Obviously, we're not playing very good defense," Kings coach Eric Musselman said.
"Collectively, individually, we must not be teaching it right because their reaction to loose balls was quite evident each time down the floor. So those are areas of concern."
As are the Kings' own three-pointers, as they tried 32 and hit 10 against the Warriors' zone defense. Mike Bibby was 4 for 12 from three-point range and 4 for 14 overall for 16 points, and Ron Artest also was 4 for 14 and had 22 points. Kevin Martin was the lone threat from start to finish, scoring 32 points on 10-for-18 shooting.
"I think in that locker room, those guys probably thought that those (three-pointers) they were taking, they were going to make," Musselman said. "But having said that, where we rank in three-point percentage (27th) in the league is not very high. We need to work on them more in practices obviously."
Tied 18-18, the Warriors went on an 11-0 run. The Kings missed all six of their shots in that stretch, with Artest responsible for three. After trailing by 14 points midway through the second quarter, the Kings never came closer than seven points.
Artest, who said after Davis scored 36 points in the teams' last meeting that he should have guarded the point guard, did so this time.
"I guess I should've guarded Matt Barnes and Baron Davis at the same time," Artest said. "I guess that's something I've got to work on, guarding two people at the same time.
"Once Mike gets going, we're going to be fine. We've got to guard the post a little better, the dribble drive a little better, and coach is working on some defensive schemes because early on, his defensive schemes weren't the best."
best quote ever
Bibby couldn't guard a fly.