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Kings 84, Jazz 104: Sacramento doesn’t enjoy their trip to the Stifle Tower

Rudy Gobert racked up 6 blocks and gave DeMarcus Cousins a ton of trouble as Utah was able to protect their homecourt.

NBA: Sacramento Kings at Utah Jazz Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

This team can’t seem to get out of its own way.

After a tough loss at home on Friday night against the Knicks, the Kings came out strong in Utah, rattling off an 11-0 run to start the game, exactly the kind of start Sacramento has unable to come by all season. Yet, like clockwork, the team still managed to find themselves down by 4 as the quarter came to an end.

The game really didn’t manage to fall out of control however until the fourth quarter. Trailing by just two entering the period, Sacramento began to miss shot after shot despite Utah continuously giving the Kings multiple opportunities off turnovers. The Jazz held the Kings to just 8 points in the final quarter after allowing at least 25 in the previous three.

Anytime the Kings tried to get anything going in the paint, there was Rudy Gobert roleplaying as a bouncer for a very exclusive nightclub, denying entrance to anyone wearing purple. Gobert tallied 6 blocks on the night, but his impact was felt on almost every possession. He got in DeMarcus Cousins’ head as well, as Cousins was completely flustered and unable to get anything going. Cousins finished with just 16 points on 7-22 shooting, thanks in large part to Gobert’s defense. Gobert was also exceedingly efficient on offense, scoring 17 points on just 6 shots to go with a game-high 14 rebounds. Gordon Hayward added 24 in his return from injury and Trey Lyles put up 14 from Utah’s bench. Rudy Gay led the Kings with 20 points and Darren Collison scored 17.

The Kings had a big advantage in the turnover department, only giving up the ball 10 times compared to 22 for Utah, but they allowed the Jazz to shoot 48.1% from the field and make 13 of 29 three pointers. Utah also had a sizeable rebounding advantage of 54 to 34, including 13 offensive rebounds. Sacramento has struggled at controlling the glass all year and tonight was no different. All five players that came off Utah’s bench managed to snag at least four rebounds. Only DeMarcus Cousins (10), Rudy Gay (5) and Omri Casspi (5) managed to do so for the Kings.

It should be noted that although Sacramento was at an inherent disadvantage playing on the road on the second night of a back-to-back, Utah was playing without George Hill, Rodney Hood, Alec Burks and Derrick Favors all either starters or heavy rotation players. Despite that, Sacramento still managed to lose by 20.

The Kings drop to 8-15 on the season and the outlook for this team is looking bleaker and bleaker. Forget playoffs, I just want to see this team be fun to watch, and right now, they aren’t.

The Kings now get a day off before heading back home for a Monday night game against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Random Observations:

  • I’m ok with DeMarcus Cousins taking the occasional wide open three pointer as he’s shown he can hit the shot, but there’s no reason that he should be leading the team in attempts and makes. His presence as one of the premier interior players in the league should mean that he’s setting up others for good outside shots themselves. That doesn’t seem to be in the Kings playbook however, and to be fair, the Kings haven’t exactly surrounded Cousins with reliable knockdown shooters.
  • Omri Casspi has gone from out of the rotation to 6th man. It wouldn’t surprise me if he soon joins the starting lineup, as I think the spacing with Cousins and Koufos on the floor together is just too poor. With Casspi on the floor the Kings have another shooter and it opens up more room for everyone to operate. If it were up to me, the Kings would be starting Collison, Temple, Casspi, Gay and Cousins.
  • Willie Cauley-Stein doesn’t even look like the same player as he was when he was a rookie. Where’s the energy? He looks lost, and I’m not sold that it’s just the learning curve of a new system.
  • I guess it’s Arron Afflalo’s turn in the doghouse, but Ben McLemore isn’t taking advantage of the opportunity. McLemore finished 0-5 from the field as the starting Shooting Guard.
  • It’s pretty remarkable that in a game that was relatively close and back and forth for three quarters that every single King managed to finish in the negative for +/-

For the opponent’s perspective, visit SLC Dunk.