Road Reaction: Utah Jazz 104, Sacramento Kings 102

The Sacramento Kings built a 13-point lead over the Utah Jazz, but came discombobulated late.  On the road in Salt Lake City, they lost 104-102 in disappointing fashion to the Jazz.  Utah outscored the Kings 19 to five in the final six minutes of the fourth period and took the lead for good with a go-ahead jumper by Gordon Hayward.

Notes and Analysis

  • Tyreke Evans continued his strong play for the Kings.  He scored eight of his 19 points on 10 shots attempted around the rim.  Evans also committed just one turnover to five assists.  Some may question Keith Smart‘s decision to sit the former rookie of the year for most of the fourth quarter.  But to be fair, the Kings were in the driver’s seat in the final period.  He did return to the game in the final three minutes when the Kings still held a five-point lead.
  • Marcus Thornton had another good game off the Kings’ bench.  The 25-year-old sixth man scored 18 points in 20 minutes, including a critical 3-point bucket that tied the game at 102 after the Kings surrendered their lead.
  • Aaron Brooks played his best game of the year.  The Kings’ starting point guard scored a season-high 17 points on 7-of-9 shooting from the field.  Brooks also committed just one turnover, but it turned out to be a costly one.  With the game tied at 102 and 14 seconds remaining on the clock, the veteran guard went one-on-one against Jamaal Tinsley, who proceeded to strip Brooks of the ball on his drive to the rim.
  • Jimmer Fredette, not Isaiah Thomas, got the call for the Kings’ off the bench.  In his return to Utah, the Kings second-year guard posted a decent game, scoring 10 points on seven shots in 17 minutes.  Thomas, meanwhile, notched his first DNP-CD of the season.
  • The Jazz’s bench killed the Kings.  Mo Williams injured his right ankle in the first quarter, so Jamaal Tinsley picked up the slack in the starting point guard’s absence.  He took just three shots and missed all of them, but the veteran guard recorded 12 assists off the Jazz’s bench.  Meanwhile, Gordon Hayward scored 10 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter, including the winning jumper that came in game’s final seconds.
  • The Kings were beat by the Jazz on the glass.  Utah out-rebounded Sacramento 43 to 31 on the night.  No Kings player recorded double-digit rebounds tonight.
  • Stat of the Night:  Utah outscored Sacramento in transition.  The Jazz finished with 31 fastbreak points to the Kings’ 11.

Three answers to three questions pondered

1. Will the Kings shoot a respectable percentage from the field?

For a second consecutive game,  the Kings shot at least 50 percent from the field.  Unlike Wednesday’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers, the Kings’ offense got off on a good foot as Sacramento shot 61.9 percent from the field in the first quarter.  But, the Kings went cold in the final period, shooting a game-low 38 percent on 8-of-21 shots.

2. Can the Kings’ big men win the match-up inside over the Jazz’s bigs?

The battle of the bigs could have been a wash if not for Derrick Favors.  The third-year big man from Georgia Tech  posted a double-double, 16 points and 14 rebounds, off the Jazz’s bench.  The game was on its way to being decided by the Kings’ guards, who thoroughly outplayed the Jazz throughout most of the contest.  But it would be Favors, along with Hayward and Tinsley, who would carry the Jazz to victory off the Utah pine.

3. Does Tyreke Evans continue his improved play?

Evans put together another solid performance for the Kings.  Once again, the Kings swingman played a well-rounded game, attacking the rim at will and keeping the Jazz’s defense honest with his jumper.  He also created scoring opportunities for his teammates through his passing.  On the evening, Evans finished with an efficient 19 points on 15 shots and five assists.