This will be the 3rd of 4 meetings between the Kings and Jazz this season. Utah has won the first two, 94-83 in Utah back on November 22nd and 107-104 in Sacramento on February 7th. Last season the Kings were 2-1 against Utah winning the lone game in Sacramento 103-99 and winning one of two in Utah 104-99.
In our first game this season, the Kings dominated the glass 50-39 and 16-9 on the offensive end. But as usual, the Kings turned the ball over 15 times to Utah’s 7. The Kings outscored the Jazz 5-3 from beyond the arc, and were decent from the FT line hitting 20-27 (74%) to the Jazz’s 23-33 (70%). It was the field goal shooting that killed the Kings chances with Tyreke shooting 3-12 for 11pts, Landry going 5-12 for 12pts, Head 3-9 for 7pts and Dalembert 0-4 for 2pts. The Kings ended up shooting only 35.9% from the field on 81 attempts.
In the last game it was more of the same thing. The Kings won the battle of the boards 45-38 and 14-10 on the offensive end with DeMarcus leading both teams with 14 rebounds and Sammy 2nd with 11. Utah had 8 steals off of our 20 turnovers while the Kings had 1 steal off of Utah’s 11 turnovers. Because of the Turnovers, Utah was able to take 7 more field goal attempts; hitting 43of 88 for 48.9% to the Kings 38 of 81 for 47%. The Kings again outscore the Jazz from the arc 6 of 15 for 40% to Utah’s 1 of 9 for 11%, and the Kings outscored the Jazz at the FT line shooting 22 of 29 (75.9%) to 20 of 30 (66.7%). DeMarcus led all scorers with 25. Carl played only 9 minutes and scored 2 pts on 1-5 shooting so considering his performance in the prior two games, the effect of his being traded should be nil.
Three days after the last game, long time Jazz head coach Jerry Sloan and lead assistant coach Phil Johnson resigned their positions. Tyrone Corbin was promoted to head coach and later signed a multi-year deal to remain as head coach. He made Scott Layden his lead assistant and added Jeff Hornacek to his coaching staff 4 days later. So far, Corbin has a record of 1-7 as head coach.
At the trade deadline, Utah acquired guard Devin Harris and forward Derrick Favors along with two future first round draft picks (New Jersey’s 2011 pick and Golden State’s 2012 pick) from New Jersey in exchange for guard Deron Williams.
Harris (6-3, 185, Wisconsin) was originally selected by the Washington Wizards in the first round (fifth overall) of the 2004 NBA Draft. He has a career average of 13.2 points, 5.0 assists, 2.5 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game. He currently ranks 11th in the NBA in assists per game and is averaging a career-high 84 percent from the free throw line and ranks eighth among all NBA guards in total free throw attempts with 307.
Favors (6-10, 246, Georgia Tech) was selected by New Jersey in the first round (third overall) of the 2010 NBA Draft. He is currently the youngest player in the NBA at 19. He has appeared in 56 games (23 starts) for the Nets this season, averaging 6.3 points and 5.3 rebounds a game while shooting 51 percent from the field (fourth-highest among NBA rookies this season).
Harris has averaged 18pts/ 7.5 asts / 3 rebs in 32 mpg, and has started the last 3 games. Favors has averaged 8pts/ 3rebs/ 1 blk in 16 mpg off the bench, in his first 3 games with Utah, but missed the last game with a cold.
The Jazz who finished in 5th place in the West last season with a record of 53-29, have already lost 30 games this season. And, with a record of 32-30, they are currently in 10th place in the West. Utah was 3-9 in February with all 3 wins coming on the road. They have lost their last 7 home games which is the longest home losing streak by the Jazz in 29 years. Their last win at home came on January 31st against Charlotte. Since then they have lost at home to Houston, OK City, Chicago, Phoenix, Golden State, Boston and Denver. Since the trade deadline, Utah is 1-3 and winless at home.
We should see Harris and Raja Bell starting in the backcourt for the Jazz with Earl Watson getting the backup minutes. Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap and Andre Kirilenko will start on the frontcourt with CJ Miles, Favors, and Francisco Elson getting the majority of the frontcourt backup minutes. With Ronnie Price out with an injured toe Gordon Hayward should see some playing time.
While the Jazz seem to be having difficulty jelling with their new lineup, they still have the same core of Jefferson, Millsap, Kirilenko and Miles, and Harris seems to be filling in for Williams nicely. Jefferson, Millsap, Kirilenko and Harris have been averaging 24 attempts at the rim per game, and are hitting on 18 or 75%. Three-point shooting still seems to be their weakness, with the Jazz only hitting 11 of 39 in their last 4 games for 28%.
The Kings lose very little in the way of rebounding with the trade of Landry for Marcus Thornton, but if Marcus continues to score like he has since joining the team (21pts on 51.7% field and 40% from three in only 29 mpg) the offense will look much improved. This tread is critical since the Jazz are 23-8 when allowing less than 100 points, and 8-21 when allowing 100+ points. Defensively the trade hasn’t been as beneficial. The Kings defense has dropped from 106.0 (18th) in defensive efficiency for the season to 109.5 since the trade deadline.
The Kings have the 3rd worst Assist Rate in the NBA which probably explains why they have the 2nd worst TS% in the NBA. The 10 teams with the worst Assist Rate are also among the top 15 teams with the lowest TS%. The Kings also have the 5th highest turnover rate which is part of the reason why they are 26th in Offensive Efficiency in the NBA. In the Kings 4 games since the trade deadline they haven’t been able to reverse that tendency and have had 18 turnovers twice, 20 turnovers and 16 turnovers.
The Jazz look to be right on the verge of turning things around, and are looking at the Kings game as the game that breaks their home losing streak. The Kings need to shore up their interior defense and that needs to start with the guards stopping penetration by Harris. For the Kings to win they must continue to dominate the boards and they must find a way to stop turning over the ball. AK47 has been on a terror, and I look to him and Omri as the matchup of the game.
One final note, Al Jefferson hurt his leg and sat out the last 41 seconds of Thursday’s game against Denver. As of this time, I haven’t been able to verify his status for this game, but if he’s unable to play the odds turn drastically in the Kings favor. Go Kings