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Kings vs. Jazz Preview: Can Sacramento end their slump now that they're back home?

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Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

It's been a rough week for the Kings.  They started off by getting embarrassed in Mexico City, couldn't get a stop in Houston and somehow managed to turn victory into defeat in Oklahoma City.  Now the team is back home and hopefully can get some momentum back before this hole becomes too deep. Today's action tips off at 7:00 pm on CSN California and on KHTK 1140.

3 Questions

1. Can the Kings get DeMarcus Cousins going down low?  Cousins has not looked the same since he has come back from his back injury.  He's been floating around the perimeter, jogging back on defense and generally not being the dominating big man we know he can be.  I'd like to see the team utilize Cousins a little more down low, especially without Rudy Gobert available for the Utah Jazz.  Derrick Favors is a formidable defender himself, but I'd still like to see the Kings try to work through Cousins in the mid-to-low post a bit more tonight.

2. Which team will control the tempo?  These teams are polar opposites in terms of pace.  The Kings like to run and the Jazz are absolutely dead last in pace.  Utah's pretty good at executing in the halfcourt though, so Sacramento needs to do a good job of preventing them from getting additional chances in the fastbreak and off of turnovers (feel like I'm beating a dead horse here).

3. Can Sacramento get off to a good start?  The last few games, Sacramento has come out with not much energy and have fallen behind early on in the game.  That means they have to expend a lot of energy simply trying to get back into the game.  The Kings aren't good enough to continually try to dig their way out of holes.  I want to see a good start by Sacramento to put Utah in that position instead.

MATCHUP OF THE GAME

Rudy Gay vs. Gordon Hayward

The Jazz are pretty good on offense but not great.  Gordon Hayward is perhaps the biggest part of that, as he does so much for Utah in terms of scoring and creating for others.  Rudy Gay has been very hit or miss this year and has particularly been ineffective on the defensive side of the ball.  We'll see how many different looks the Kings throw at Hayward.

PREDICTION

Kings 104, Jazz 97.  I feel the Kings will be a little bit extra motivated to win this game after losing three in a row and combined with the fact they're back at home.