Tyrese Haliburton tried.
The Kings guard was in his home state Saturday night, about 90 miles from Oshkosh North High School, where his jersey was retired in a ceremony Friday. With his parents at Saturday’s game with the Bucks, Haliburton tried to lead the Kings to a comeback win but Milwaukee players just kept hitting shots. The Bucks hit 50% of their 3-pointers Saturday as they took a 133-127 win over Sacramento.
Everything else went right for Haliburton. He spoke at his high school jersey retirement. He got to watch Oshkosh North play a game Saturday before the Kings and Bucks played. And with De’Aaron Fox out with a sore ankle, Haliburton scored 24 points and added 12 assists.
“It’s always fun to be home,” he said. “This has obviously been a special weekend for me. To go home and see so many friends and family and having them cheering for me tonight, it kind of felt like a home game for myself.”
He tried to take over like it was a home game. Haliburton hit a 3-pointer with 2:32 remaining in the fourth quarter to cut Milwaukee’s lead to four points. A pair of Haliburton free throws with 1:29 left cut the lead to three. Another Haliburton 3-pointer with 17.6 seconds left kept the score respectable at least.
Respectable was about all the Kings could shoot for. No loss is excusable in professional sports, but Kings coach Alvin Gentry all but shrugged. The Bucks hit 21 3-pointers. They earned easy layups throughout the second half. You stop one thing and the other thing becomes the problem. What’re you gonna do?
“They put you in a situation where their best player is in the low post, they force a switch and it’s a mismatch,” Gentry said. “We tried to not go down for help and then he scored. When we went down and helped, he kicked it out and they made shots. So you pick your poison.”
Harrison Barnes milestone
Haliburton had plenty of offensive help. Terence Davis had 22 points and seven rebounds as he started in place of Fox. And Harrison Barnes had 29 points and six rebounds while he scored his 10,000th career point. He’s one of 31 active players with that many points.
The 10-year veteran tried to keep the mood light in his postgame news conference as he talked about the milestone.
“Man, I’ve been playing a long time, geez. Took forever,” Barnes said. “Obviously, I would love to reach a milestone like that in a win but I think it’s just a testament really to a lot of coaches, a lot of teammates, trainers in this league make me better and hopefully I can continue to do this for many years to go.”
The 29-year-old is having another statistically solid season, suggesting he could indeed play for years to come. He was averaging 16.3 points per game entering Saturday’s game, higher than his career average of 14.0. His 6.0 rebounds per game and 2.4 assists per game are also more than his career averages.
The man of the hour, Haliburton, said he didn’t realize Barnes had hit the 10,000-point mark. He vowed to find his teammate and congratulate him. That’s typical of the second-year Kings guard, who has turned heads with his play and his attitude. Gentry and the Kings seemed to enjoy the visit to frigid Wisconsin, if not for the result of the game with the Bucks. Gentry said he enjoyed seeing Haliburton back in his element – which came with a gratuitous “Go Pack, Go” when he was asked who he was rooting for in the 49ers-Packers game.
“He’s really embedded with the Oshkosh community, with the things he had to say about the people that helped him there. I talked to a couple of his teachers and they had nothing but good things to say about him. I can understand that because I’ve been around him every day and seen what kind of person he is,” Gentry said.