One of the many reasons why the last month of Kings basketball has been so disappointing is because that was supposed to be easiest part of the 2019-20 schedule. Tonight, the Kings find themselves in Salt Lake City, Utah, to face the red-hot Utah Jazz. The Jazz have won 15 of their last 17 games. The Jazz have a 15-3 record at home. The Jazz are very good.
Let’s get to the recap, running diary style:
Marvin Bagley got off to a little miniature hot start scoring the first 4 points for the Kings, but a couple of Bojan Bogdanovic threes gave the Jazz an early 14-6 lead, forcing Luke Walton to call a timeout just 3 minutes into the game. Not the kind of start you’re looking for after a couple of days off. Bagley had an impressive move off the dribble in isolation vs. Rudy Gobert out of the timeout, bringing Bagley’s point total to 6 early in the first.
On paper, Bagley vs. Gobert at center looks like a really tough matchup for Marvin, but he’s had some success scoring against him in the past. The problem is the Kings don’t really have an answer for Gobert on defense and Rudy is dominated the paint.
Luke Walton called another timeout when the Jazz extended the lead to 28-15. Nemanja Bjelica, in particular, was getting torched whether he was switched on to Gobert, or forced to cover Bogdanovic on the perimeter. Bad start. I expected Walton to sub Bjelica out at the timeout after repeated defensive lapses, but he did not. Bogdan Bogdanovic did make his return the Kings lineup and immediately hit a jumper. Welcome back, Bogi.
The 1st quarter ends with a 38-21 Jazz lead after 12 minutes of ok-at-best offense, and horrendous defense by the Kings. Marvin Bagley’s 10 points was the only real bright spot here.
The 2nd quarter opens with Dewayne Dedmon air-balling a hook shot, and the Kings are down 20 with 9 minutes left in the 2nd. I sincerely hope that teams considering trading for Dedmon did not watch his run in the 2nd quarter. He’s missing layups, he’s getting beat down the court defensively, and he’s letting Jordan Clarkson score over him in the paint — it’s all bad. Get well soon, Richaun. Cory Joseph, on the other hand, is providing the rare offensive punch with 8 points in 12 minutes, and the Kings are sort of almost closing the gap here late in the 2nd.
If you’re looking for some bright spots, the Kings offense has been ok. I’ll gladly take 50% shooting in the first half against one of the better defensive teams in the NBA. Unfortunately the Kings’ 3-point shooting hasn’t been there.
Bagley and Fox played well offensively. Buddy Hield was ok on that end, too. Nobody played defense. Kings down 63-49 at the half.
Marvin Bagley hit his 4th 3-pointer of the season early in the 3rd, and the Kings have opened the second half with some good offense overall. Someone is going to have to start guarding Bojan Bodganovic, though. He’s up to 27 points with 7:25 left in the 3rd.
Rudy Gobert is once again taking over the paint offensively. He’s just too big for a Marvin Bagley/Nemanja Bjelica frontcourt. The Jazz have their largest lead of the evening, 85-62. This game is rapidly approaching garbage time. If the Kings are going to make this interesting, they have to start now.
The Kings, as they often have throughout the many, many losses we have experienced lately, are making a frisky 4th quarter push. De’Aaron Fox and Bogdan Bogdanovic are attacking the rim at will, and the Kings have closed the gap to 14. Timeout Jazz. And just as I type that, Mike Conley hits his first shot of the game, a three from the parking lot, to put the Jazz back up 17. And there’s two more. Jazz up 19. Oh well.
To make matters worse, Marvin Bagley had to exit the game with about two minutes left in the 4th quarter and had Kings trainers looking at his left foot. The same left foot that caused him to miss 8 games with strain earlier this season.
The rest of this game was some quintessential garbage time. Kings lose 123-101.
I don’t know how many more games the Kings can lose this season without some sort of response from ownership or the front office, but this was another bad, lifeless loss. Next up, the 29-12 Miami Heat.