Kings vs. Jazz Preview: Time to get back on the right track

Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE

The Kings have lost three in a row as DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay have been sidelined with injuries. Tonight they play a team that embarrassed them on their home floor a month ago.

The Kings haven't been able to find much success without DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay and enter tonight's game against Utah (6 p.m. Comcast SportsNet California & KHTK 1140) on a 3-game losing streak. Word on the street from our good friends at Cowbell Kingdom is that Rudy Gay made the trip to Utah while Cousins didn't. That doesn't necessarily mean Gay will play though.

MATCHUP OF THE GAME

Whoever's guarding Gordon Hayward vs. Gordon Hayward

The Jazz tend to go as Gordon Hayward goes. The difference between Hayward in Jazz wins vs. Jazz losses is big: In wins, Hayward is averaging 20.5 points on 48.4% from the floor and 43.9% from three while in losses he's at 15.7 points on just 38.7% from the floor and 28.4% from three. His Offensive Rating in wins is 120, but is just a paltry 96 in losses. I'd argue that slowing Hayward down is more important than getting offense from our own SF because the Jazz don't have a whole lot of reliable offensive weapons.

3 THINGS

1. The Jazz actually have a worse defense than the Kings (not by much but still) and they definitely have a worse offense. If the Kings can play solid defense, they should be able to score relatively easily on this Jazz team, even on the second night of a back-to-back.

2. The Jazz are better than their record indicates as Trey Burke has made them a much better team. Without Burke, the Jazz were just 1-11, while with him they're 14-18, including a 21 point blowout against the Kings early last month in Sacramento. This is not a team to take lightly even though they have a bad record.

3. Isaiah Thomas has still been putting up big scoring numbers lately, but he's also been shooting much less efficiently. He's dropped to below 40% from three after going 5 for 24 from distance over the last three games. Without Cousins and Gay, Thomas isn't getting nearly the same quality of looks as teams have keyed in on him.

PRE-GAME HAIKU

Will Rudy Gay play?
I really, really, hope so.
He can take Gordon.

PREDICTION

Kings 117, Jazz 95 after Jimmer goes off for 30 points in the 4th quarter after a Jazz fan wearing a University of Utah shirt yelled "BYU Sucks!".

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