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Kings vs. Jazz Preview: I’m more of a Blues man myself

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Utah’s first visit to Sacramento this season is also the last time the Kings will be playing at home this month.

Kimani Okearah

The NBA schedule is a fickle beast. After all, the Kings have already played the L.A. Clippers all four times this season, yet tonight will be the first time that Sacramento faces the Utah Jazz. This is the last home game for the Kings before they go on a six-game road trip, so let’s make it count.

When: Wednesday, January 17th; 7:00 pm PST

Where: Golden 1 Center; Sacramento, CA

TV: NBCSCA

Radio: KHTK Sports 1140 AM

For Your Consideration

The New Look Jazz: Utah was dealt a reeling blow this summer when Gordon Hayward, their star wing who had been a central piece in bringing the Jazz back to respectability, left for greener (quite literally) pastures in Boston. But Utah wasn’t just supposed to disappear. They still had Rudy Gobert, who had a breakout season last year and likely should have been named an All-Star. But Gobert has been injured for much of this season. Without Gobert the Jazz have suffered, going just 3-12 in their last 15 games.

The Jazz lost another important piece from last year’s playoff team in George Hill as well. Hill had perhaps the best season of his career in Utah last season, parlaying it into a huge deal with the Kings. Hill’s replacement in Utah, Ricky Rubio, has not had the same impact. Rubio, known so much for his passing, is averaging a career-low 4.7 assists in Utah and doesn’t seem to fit in well with Utah’s slower pace.

But it’s not all bad news for the Jazz. Fourth year wing Rodney Hood is still scoring and shooting well even though he hasn’t exactly taken over all of Hayward’s responsibilities. And most of all, the Jazz appeared to have found a gem in the draft in trading for Donovan Mitchell. Mitchell struggled to start the season but since then has become Utah’s leading scorer. Mitchell is averaging 18.9 points a game as a rookie, a higher number than even the presumed RoY, Ben Simmons. Mitchell has wowed with electrifying athleticism and scoring ability and looks to be a potential new cornerstone for the Jazz to build around.

Despite their recent struggles, the Jazz aren’t a team to be trifled with. They are still a very solid defensive team, ranking 13th in the league in defensive rating despite not having their best defender for most of the season. They are among the best teams at forcing turnovers, ranking 3rd in steals per game which is even more impressive considering they play the third slowest pace in the league. For Sacramento to win, they’ll have to overcome Utah’s effort on that end of the floor and do their best to keep Utah’s below average offense from doing anything easy.

Quinn Snyder looks like a cross between Matthew McConaughey, Gary Sinise and Satan:

Prediction: De’Aaron Fox vs. Donovan Mitchell proves to be the highlight of the season as the two young guards go back and forth in a magnificent scoring display, only for the game to be miraculously decided when Kosta Koufos nails a hook shot from beyond the arc at the buzzer.

Kings 97, Jazz 94