Jerome Randle returned to Sydney to face his old team, but there was no sweet homecoming as the Kings secured a 102-80 win against Adelaide in their home season opener at Qudos Bank Arena.
Randle showcased his trademark handles, but it was prized Kings recruit Casper Ware who seemed to relish the chance to go head to head in the early point-guard battle.
Ware's first two baskets came from attacking the rim, and muscling through Randle for inside looks. That appeared to set the tone for the Kings' early focus of attack on the way to winning the battle of points in the paint, 40-32.
"I thought we gave them really easy looks right at the beginning, gave them a rhythm, kind of got them in a flow," said 36ers coach Joey Wright.
"We were playing catch up from the beginning. Made a couple of good runs at them but it was probably too little, too late."
Ware scored only 10 points, but was ably supported by Brad Newley (18), Kevin Lisch (nine points and six assists), Daniel Kickert (16) and Jae'Sean Tate (16), who bullied his way inside for close-range buckets and rebounds in traffic.
Andrew Bogut played just 13 minutes and finished with eight points and four rebounds.
For the 36ers, Randle finished with 16 points, while Daniel Johnson scored a game-high 26.
The 36ers were left to rue a disappointing performance in which their energy levels wavered. At one stage in the third quarter, they trimmed the margin to 63-55, but they were not able to sustain that run.
"If we came out with that energy from the get-go, then that game would have been totally different. You just have to hold each other accountable," said Randle.
The Kings set up a 22-point lead early in the second quarter with strong defence and never looked back. They were relentless, but the 36ers also looked disjointed on both ends.
The Kings also finished with a decisive rebounding edge, 46-36, an area of focus after their first game against Cairns.
"Definitely. We're still not to where we need to be to be a championship team, but I think we got better from last week to this week," said Kings power forward Tate.
"And we're going to continue to make that a focus especially because, compared to some other teams, we're smaller."
"We were giving then multiple looks - 16 offensive rebounds," said Wright.
"That's way too many for a team like this that can shoot the ball. I thought we defended decent at times, but just not enough, not consistently enough."
The Kings next play the New Zealand Breakers on Friday night in Sydney. The 36ers must regroup before hosting Brisbane next week.