by Charlie O. Mallonee
The Sacramento Kings forgot to play by the old adage of “it’s not how you start the game but how you finish the game that counts”. Sacramento started the game in Utah on Saturday night with an 11-0 run. The Kings finished the game scoring just eight points in the fourth quarter versus the Jazz and lost their second consecutive contest 104-84.
Yes, it was the second game of a back-to-back set on the road for Sacramento. Every NBA fan knows that means the deck is stacked against your team in second game of a back-to-back set on the road, but the deck is also stacked against a home team that is without three of its regular starters due to injuries. That is exactly what the Jazz had to deal with on Saturday night. Three of their regular starters are missing due to injury, and they could easily use that as an excuse anytime to explain away a loss. Instead, they played hard and won their 15th game of the season.
The Kings played hard for 36 minutes
Sacramento trailed the Jazz by just two points after three quarters of play were in the book on Saturday night. It appeared that it was anybody’s game as the teams headed into the final 12 minutes of play.
The Kings did not show up on either end of the floor. On offense, Sacramento shot just 13.6-percent (3-for-22) from floor with one 3-point basket in seven attempts. They went just 1-for-4 from the free throw line. The Kings used 12 players in the fourth period and only four scored points for the team.
On defense, the Kings allowed the Jazz to score 26 points in the final quarter while shooting 50-percent (10-for-20) from the floor. Utah hit 4-of-9 from beyond the 3-point line. Trey Lyles led the Jazz with eight points in the fourth quarter and Gordon Hayward added seven points as well.
The Jazz dominated the fourth quarter of the game as they sent the Kings home with their 15th loss of the year.
Utah dominated the numbers in this game
The Jazz topped the Kings in all of the important numbers as a team on Saturday night. Utah shot 48.1-percent (37-for-77) from the floor while Sacramento shot just 37.8-percent for the game. This was the second straight game that Kings shot under 40-percent for the game. You cannot win in the NBA shooting under 40-percent.
Utah hit 13-of-29 shots from beyond the 3-point arc (44.8-percent). A NBA team cannot allow their opponents to shoot above 40-percent from 3-point land and expect to win. The defense has to put a body on those shooters and put pressure on that offense to stop taking those long range shots if they are going to win the game.
The Jazz shot 94.4-percent (17-for-18) from the free throw line. Teams are not going to shoot that well from the stripe on most nights in “the Association”. The biggest problem for Sacramento was the fact they only went to the free throw line 13 times in the entire game. This is a team that usually dominates the paint. To have only 13 opportunities from the charity stripe in a game is totally unacceptable for the Kings.
For the second game in a row, the Kings were dominated on the boards. The Jazz outrebounded the Kings 54-34. Utah pulled down 44 defensive rebounds to Sacramento’s 22 defensive boards. The Knicks also outrebounded the Kings in their win on Friday night.
Gobert had a monster game for the Jazz
Rudy Gobert has been tasked with being the leader of his team on the floor with the other three starters missing in action. Saturday night, Gobert recorded a double-double in the game. He posted 17 points and grabbed 14 rebounds. He also had six – yes you are reading correctly – six blocked shots in the game. Gobert is becoming a force to be dealt with in the NBA.
Four Jazz players scored in double figures
Gordon Hayward was the high-scorer in the game with 26 points for Utah. Hayward hit three 3-point baskets and was a perfect 5-for-5 from the free throw line.
Trey Lyles added 14 points off the bench for the Jazz. Joe Ingles put up 11 points in his 38-minutes of playing time, and Gobert posted his 17 points.
Kings scoring numbers
Rudy Gay led the scoring attack for the Kings on Saturday night. He put up 20 points shooting 7-for-15 from the floor and going 3-for-4 from 3-point range. That is one of his best shooting performances in some time for the Kings.
Point guard Darren Collison added 17 points shooting 50-percent from the field and hitting 3-of-5 from 3-point land.
DeMarcus Cousins posted a double-double putting up 16 points and pulling down 10 rebounds. He also had a tough night shooting going just 7-for-22 from the floor. He was just 1-for-6 from 3-point range.
Omri Casspi continues to make the most of every minute of playing time he given. In this game, Casspi played 27-minutes and scored 12 points. He hit 5-of-9 shots from the floor and was 2-for-3 from long distance. Casspi also had two assists and two steals.
Up next on the schedule
The Kings have Sunday off and then return to action on Monday hosting the Los Angeles Lakers at the Golden 1 Center. The Kings lost to the Lakers in November 101-91 in Sacramento. The last thing Sacramento wants to do is to be swept by the Lakers on their home court.
The Jazz are off until Wednesday night when they will host the Oklahoma City Thunder in Salt Lake City.