by Charlie O. Mallonee
If you are Dave Joerger this morning, you are probably having an agony and ecstasy moment over your coffee. The ecstasy is your team played a great game on Sunday versus a very talented playoff bound Utah Jazz squad. The agony is your team let a 16 point lead slip away and you lost in overtime on a tip-in with 1-tenth of a second left on the clock.
Joerger really had a good attitude after the game on Sunday. “It was good. Arron Afflalo, like I said pregame, has really stepped up into the leadership position. I thought he really set the tone for us. I think he made four of his first five, five of his first six. He was aggressive. He did a great job at (defending) Gordon Hayward.
Afflalo scored 17 points shooting 6-for-12 from the field and 4-for-4 from the free throw line. He had four rebounds and three assists. Afflalo was one of seven Kings to score in double figures.
“It was good,” said Afflalo after the game. “I was extremely proud of my teammates. Everybody was engaged on both ends of the court. We played with a purpose to win tonight. It’s going to be a true test of our will to take a tough loss like this and play the team (Denver) tomorrow (Monday) that we’re trying to catch for the eighth spot.”
Garrett Temple returned to the court
Garrett Temple returned to action for the Kings on Sunday night after missing 11 games with a partially torn left ham string. Temple scored 11 points on 4-of-9 shooting including two 3-point baskets to go with four assists and three steals.
“Well certainly he has a positive impact,”, said Dave Joerger. “We were better defensively whether he was in there or not. He is certainly a positive defender and a solid positive contributor for sure.”
Willie Cauley-Stein played with intensity
“That was a playoff game for us,” opined Joerger. “We played with playoff intensity. If a guy plays 12 minutes of that, that’s better than four (quarters) in summer leagues where he plays 38 minutes. Summer league, you just get minutes, they keep score and that’s great. This is where you find out where you are as a player and what you need to work on. The intensity of competition is a fantastic experience.
Cauley-Stein put up 15 points while shooting 6-for-12 and grabbing 9 rebounds. “WCS” also had Three assists, two steals and one blocked shot.
The Kings have now lost four in a row
The Kings have now lost four consecutive games and their record has fallen to 25-37 for the season. Sacramento has fallen to 11th place in the Western Conference three games behind Denver in the eighth and final playoff spot. They are tied with the Timberwolves while Portland and Dallas stand in between them and the Nuggets.
Kings (25-37) must face the Nuggets (28-34) Monday night in Denver
The Kings have the tough task of playing the Nuggets in the second game of a back-to-back set on the road at high altitude in Denver. The Nuggets are coming off a loss to the Hornets and are anxious to take advantage of the fact that 8 of their next 11 games at home.
FiveThirtEight.com projects that the Kings have just a 17-percent chance of winning the game in Denver (ouch!). The second game of a back-to-back on the road coupled with the high altitude seems to the influencing factors. This lopsided prediction is out there despite the fact the Kings are 2-0 versus the Nuggets this season. The second Kings win came after the DeMarcus Cousins trade to New Orleans but that win came in Sacramento.
The Jazz were thrilled to escape Sacramento with the overtime win
“It’s a big lift,” said Jazz head coach Quin Snyder.”I think particularly, Sacramento played well. We made some plays to win the game, but they did a heck of a job and probably deserved to win. I like to think our guys did some good things and we were able to steal one. It gives you a lift. There’s no question about it. With plenty more to go right now, you can’t rest on that any more than you can with getting beat.”
The Jazz also have a back-to-back
The Jazz flew home to Utah where they will host the New Orleans Pelicans in the second game of a back-to-back set. Both teams are coming off wins on Sunday. The Pels picked up their first win with DeMarcus Cousins on the roster by beating the Lakers in Los Angeles.
Utah will be looking to increase their 1.5-game lead over the fifth-place Clippers. The Pelicans are in 13th-place in the Western Conference 3.5-games out of playoff contention.