Well, it wasn't a blowout, but the result is nonetheless the same. The Kings went into Utah tonight looking to win just their 3rd game on the road, and despite playing competitively, couldn't close it out in the final minutes.
Tyreke Evans was an absolute monster for the Kings, scoring 31 points and dishing 9 assists to go with 6 boards and 2 steals. DeMarcus Cousins barely missed another double-double with 14 points and 9 rebounds, and Jason Thompson and Jimmer Fredette also scored 14.
For Utah, it was the play of their wings that carried the day. Gordon Hayward led his team with 21 points, a season-high for him, to go with 5 boards, 4 assists and a couple steals. C.J. Miles came in off the bench and scored 20. Al Jefferson was the only other Jazz player in double figures with 12, but they received some production from everyone that played, unlike the Kings.
Aside from Isaiah Thomas (who went 5-6 and scored 13 straight points for the Kings in the 4th quarter), nobody on the Kings bench made a field goal or scored a point. Chuck Hayes, Francisco Garcia, J.J. Hickson and Donté Greene combined for 0-12 shooting. Considering how close the game was, that's a big statistic.
The officials let both of these teams play very physically, with few whistles being called. Unfortunately for us, we received the short end of the stick on some calls, as Utah only had 15 fouls called against them all night to Sacramento's 21. There was also a key moment in the 4th quarter when John Salmons stole the ball right at the end of a 24 second violation and was ready to sprint ahead for an easy layup that would have cut the lead to one, but it was ruled a shot-clock violation and the Kings received the ball out of bounds. Luckily they managed to score quickly on the next possession anyway, but it cost them a timeout they might have saved for the final, deciding possession.
The Kings managed to come back from an 11 point 3rd quarter deficit in the 4th thanks in large part to Isaiah Thomas and the continued excellent play of Tyreke Evans. As mentioned before, Isaiah scored the first 13 points of the 4th for Sacramento, going 5-5 from the field (3-3 from three) in doing so. Then it was Tyreke's turn, as he continued attacking the basket, scoring 9 in the quarter.
The end of the game came down to defense and hitting their shots. On one end, with the score 94-93, the Jazz gave the ball to Devin Harris, guarded by Isaiah Thomas. Harris pulled up at the top of the Free Throw circle for a long two, and Isaiah reached too far in contesting the shot and clipped him on the elbow, sending him to the line. Harris hit one of two, putting the score at 95-93 with 13 seconds left. The Kings managed to get the rebound and call timeout. The ball went into Tyreke Evans hands, but he was stymied at the rim going for the tie, and the ball was knocked out of bounds by Utah with 8 seconds left. This is where having that extra timeout would have come in handy. Instead the Kings inbound under the basket and get about as good a look as you can get: Jimmer open for three. Earl Watson did a great job of coming out to contest the shot, and Jimmer rushed it and faded away, and the shot wasn't even close, aiirballing out of bounds with 4 seconds left.
The Kings still had a chance, but Chuck Hayes couldn't keep up with Hayward and fouled him on a grab, re-injuring his shoulder and sending Hayward to the line for a free throw, which made it 96-93. It's a bad setback for Hayes, who has already missed a lot of time, and might have to miss some more now.
The Kings get another couple days off to regroup before heading to Oakland to meet the Warriors on Tuesday.