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Game 33 – Game Day: Utah Jazz (15-17) at Sacramento Kings (11-22)

Tonight the Utah Jazz get back into the whole "playing games" thing by playing on the road against the Sacramento Kings. The Jazz are nearly a .500 team, and the Kings are a .333 team – so obviously we look better on paper. Off of the paper, and onto the actual matchups things are a lot more closer. The of all, we have all kinds of trouble with Tyreke Evans. Over his career he has scored the more points per game against the Jazz than against any other club (24.0 ppg, career average is only 18.7 ppg). That’s more than +5.0 extra points for this guy. A lot of that comes from the line. The only team he has gone to the line more against in his career is Golden State. Evans will be a handful for our guards – but there’s more to the Castle Arco than just that one King. Both Marcus Thornton and DeMarcus Cousins average more than 15.0 ppg as well, and as a team, they get a lot of steals, and a lot of shots up. They also lead the league in offensive rebounds (maybe it has something to do with being worst in the league in fg%?). Sadly for them, they have the worst defense in the league. What does that say about our Jazz who only managed to score 96 points against them at home?

What’s going on with the Sacramento Kings?

Sacramento has lost 7 of their last 9 games, and lost 12 of their last 17 games. Uh, and also lost 22 of their last 33 games. That last one was just their overall record this season. The point is that the Kings aren’t winning a lot of games this season. It would look *really* bad if we lose to them. Their last two wins were on the road against the Washington Wizards, and somehow they beat the Oklahoma City Thunder. Of the Kings wins this year, 7 of the 11 have come at home. They are still dangerous there.

Tyreke Evans should be a known quantity at this point. And they have both floor balance and floor spacing. John Salmons is questionable to tonight’s game; but that evens out because Marcus Thornton was injured for our first meeting. Both are guys who can straight up abuse our defense if left open.

I am worried about DeMarcus Cousins – he’s super talented but he’s a few trips to the Wizard of Oz away from being a complete player (brain, heart, courage?). I’m convinced he would attempt to rob a bank with a sock puppet and a butter knife because he didn’t interpret the coaching staffs message to "take what the defense gives you" correctly.

All of that said, he’s still capable of hurting us. He played really well in the Rookie/Soph game and should be motivated to bang after the All-Star Break.

After the Jump: What's going on with the Jazz?

What’s going on with the Utah Jazz?

The Jazz haven’t been so hot lately either, we’ve gone for 5 losses in our last 6 games and 10 losses in our last 13 games. In fact the Jazz haven’t won two games in a row since our game against the Sacramento Kings (and then Portland Trailblazers) back about a month ago. The Jazz are also going to be moving guys around a bit more in the second half of the season. The rumor is that Josh Howard was going to be moving into the starting lineup regardless of injuries – and he will get the start tonight in place of injured Raja Bell. Jamaal Tinsley is also going to be out for tonight. It’s always nice to be down a few guards in a game where you have to play (and try to defend) against Tyreke Evans, Jimmer Fredette, Marcus Thornton, John Salmons, and Francisco Garcia.

It would be nice to see Alec Burks again (especially since he had a very solid game last time these two clubs played), but because of how fate loves Jazz fans, we’re more likely to see a whole lot of DeMarre Carroll instead. Carroll hasn’t played one minute of the Jazz, but is still pulling in a pay cheque for the rest of the NBA season. Greg Miller – I can also not play, and I will do it for 50% of what you’re paying DeMarre. Food for thought.

The Jazz are hungry for a win, after going into the All-Star Break on a slide. The only way we win is by doing it inside-out. If Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap continue to shoot worse than they should against the worst defense in the NBA then we need to serious re-adjust our expectations for our club.

Previous Meetings:

The Utah Jazz and the Sacramento Kings faced each other once before this season, back in January. The Jazz held on to win 96-93 in a hotly contested game between the two lottery clubs. Tyreke Evans scored 31 points, dished off 9 assists, and had 6 rebounds, while shooting 60.0 fg% and getting to the line 7 times. Only five other Kings players scored, with DeMarcus Cousins, Jimmer Fredette, Jason Thompson, John Salmons, and Isaiah Thomas each scoring 14 or 13 points. Thomas went 3/3 from deep, and Jimmer went 3/5 from deep. The Jazz had big nights from Gordon Hayward (21 points, 5 boards, 4 assists, 7 free throw attempts, and 2 made threes), and C.J. Miles (20 points, 61.5 fg%, 1 made three, 2 steals). Al Jefferson shot 38.5 fg%, and Paul Millsap shot 20.0 fg%, and our starting guards Devin Harris and Raja Bell combined for 12 points. Alec Burks went 2/3 from deep and finished with 8 much needed points.

The Kings outscored the Jazz 26-18 in the fourth quarter, on our own homecourt, we can’t collapse again like that and let a team so much worse than us back into games. Especially if we’re up on them going into the fourth.