Game 44 Preview: Sacramento Kings at Utah Jazz

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Trey Burke during a stoppage in action against the Sacramento Kings with Isaiah Thomas looming in the background. (Photo: Tobin Halsey)

Gametime: 6:00 pm PT

Where: EnergySolutions Arena, Salt Lake City, UT

Broadcast Information: KHTK Sports 1140 (Radio), Comcast SportsNet California (Local Television)

Sacramento Kings Projected Starters (15-28)

PG: Isaiah Thomas
SG: Marcus Thornton
SF: Derrick Williams
PF: Jason Thompson
C: Aaron Gray

Utah Jazz Projected Starters (15-29)

PG: Trey Burke
SG: Gordon Hayward
SF: Richard Jefferson
PF: Marvin Williams
C: Derrick Favors

What to watch

1. Does Rudy Gay return?

We know two things ahead of tonight’s match-up.  DeMarcus Cousins did not travel to Salt Lake City, but Rudy Gay did.  That could be a sign the veteran forward makes his return to the Kings’ lineup after missing the last two games.  Gay has not played for the Kings since last Wednesday’s loss to the Houston Rockets due to a strained left achilles.

2. The contributions of Ben McLemore

McLemore played with confidence in last night’s defeat to the Denver Nuggets.  He came off the Kings’ bench to score 18 points on 6-of-12 shooting in 29 minutes of action.  What was most impressive about McLemore’s play last night was his ability to at times make plays off the dribble.  Scoring off the bounce has been an area of weakness for 20-year-old guard in the his first NBA season.  Even if Gay doesn’t play, the Kings still won’t have Cousins and will need McLemore’s scoring punch off their bench against the Jazz.

3. Can Isaiah Thomas create for his teammates?

Thomas, by nature, is a score-first guard and without Cousins and Gay in the lineup the last two nights, the 24-year-old point guard has put the onus on himself to help generate points for the Kings.  He’s taken 52 shots in his previous two games and it’s come at the expense of involving some of his other teammates.  It will be particularly interesting to watch if Thomas can involve both Derrick Williams and Jason Thompson more in tonight’s game.  Against the Nuggets, Thompson and Williams only took 12 shots between them.

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