by Charlie O. Mallonee
The Sacramento Kings ended a nightmare five games in seven nights stretch with a “Battle Royale” versus the playoff bound Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City on Saturday night. The Kings played a very competitive game for a full 48-minutes but came up just short losing to the Jazz 103-97.
The Kings had to battle the talent of the Jazz, the fatigue of having played at Golden State on Friday night and playing at altitude – SLC sits 4226 feet above sea level. Sacramento played those five games in five different cities – only the Miami game was played in SAC. They also played in three different time zones. Even under those adverse conditions, the Kings finished this punishing part of their schedule with two wins and three loses.
Despite not arriving in Utah until 2 am, Sacramento showed no fatigue starting the game fast and with high energy. The team continued to play hard in the second quarter and took a 54-50 lead into the locker room at halftime. The Kings 3-point shooting helped to carrying them in the first half as they 8-of-11 (72.7-percent) from behind the arc in the opening 24-minutes. Buddy Hield came off the bench to lead the scoring for Sacramento with 10 points while Rudy Gobert was the top scorer for the Jazz with 13.
The Kings have battled third-quarter let downs all season long but managed to avoid that problem in this game. They did fall behind by 10 points in the period but rebounded late in the quarter and trailed the Jazz by just one – 80 to 79 – after three quarters.
In the final period, the score seesawed back and forth with neither team able to take control of the game. The game was tied at 94-all with 40-seconds remaining. Joe Ingles hit two free throws to give Utah the lead then Ricky Rubio hit two from the charity stripe to give the Jazz a four-point lead 24-seconds to go.
The Kings had to foul to stop the clock and keep the game close. They fouled Gobert who converted two free throws to make it six-point game. Garrett Temple hit a 3-pointer to bring the Kings back within three-points then they had to foul Ingles again. Ingles hit the first free throw but missed the second. Gobert grabbed the rebound slammed the ball home to give the Jazz a 103-97 lead which would be the final score.
- Buddy Hield came off the bench to be the leading scorer for his team with 23-points. “Buddy Buckets” shot 9-for-15 for the game and hit 5-of-8 3-point attempts. Hield also led his team with six assists.
- Bogdan Bogdanovic posted 12 points but had a tough night shooting. He hit just 5-of-17 shots overall and was 2-for-3 from long-range.
- Fox scored 11-points, grabbed four rebounds, made four steals and handed out two assists but also struggled from the field hitting just 4-of-13 attempts.
- Garrett Temple had a good game coming off the bench to score 11-points. He shot 4-for-7 and was a perfect 3-for-3 from downtown.
- Other Sac contributors: Cauley-Stein 9-points, Koufos and Mason III 8 each, Labissiere 7, Sampson 6, Jackson 2.
- Rookie of the year candidate Donovan Mitchell was the high-scorer for the game with 28-points. Mitchell shot 11-for-21 from the field but was an awful 1-for-8 from 3-point land. He hit 5-of-6 from the free throw line.
- Rudy Gobert recorded a double-double scoring 22 points and hauling in 13 rebounds.
- Ricky Rubio was expected to miss the game after being injured in the Suns game on Thursday, but he did make the start. The point guard scored 14-points, recorded nine rebounds and dished out five dimes.
- Joe Ingles posted 14 points, seven rebounds and a game-high nine assists.
By the Numbers
- The Kings bench outscored the Utah reserves 56-15. Dave Joerger would like to have that kind of bench production every game.
- SAC was hot from behind the arc as they hit 14-of-21 (66.7-percent) from 3-point range versus the Jazz.
- The team shot an acceptable 43-percent (37-for-86) for the game.
- The Kings recorded 33 rebounds versus 48 for the Jazz.
- Sacramento scored 20 points off 16 Utah turnovers.
- SAC dished out 23 assists versus 14 turnovers.
- The Kings went to the free throw line just 14 times while Utah went to the stripe 38 times.
- Second chance points may have been the key to the Jazz win Saturday night. Utah scored eight second chance points to just three for the Kings.
- Success at the free throw line was also a major contributing factor in Jazz win. They converted 31-of-38 opportunities from line. Sacramento went 9-for-14 shooting free throws.
- UTA dominated the battle in the paint outscoring SAC 46-30 down low.
- Utah shot 44.6-percent (33-for-74) for the contest.
- They did not have a great not from downtown hitting just 6-of-24 (25-percent) from 3-point range.
SAC opens a six-game homestand with the Detroit Pistons on Monday night at the Golden 1 Center. The Pistons made a big trade for Blake Griffin to make a drive for the playoffs in the Eastern Conference but are now six games out of contention for the eighth and final postseason spot.
UTA will stay in Salt Lake City and prepare for the “tanking” Atlanta Hawks who will come to town on Tuesday night. The Hawks occupy last place in the NBA East. Atlanta will continue their road trip on Thursday night in Sacramento.