After the Portland Trail Blazers near win, and competitive games against the Memphis Grizzlies and Phoenix Suns, the Utah Jazz hosted the Sacramento Kings, the Jazz' fourth game in five nights. Fatigue, and injuries to three shooting guards Alec Burks, Rodney Hood, and Joe Ingles would make this game a little more difficult for the good guys. The Sacramento Kings played without starting point guard Darren Collison, but All-Star bigman DeMarcus Cousins and high volume slashing wing Rudy Gay were sure to pose problems for Utah in former coach Tyrone Corbin's return. Of course, because destiny is a real thing in the universe, Violet Palmer was reffing this game as well, and where Ty and Violet are, sparks will fly. Situationals and sentimentality aside, as predicted, there was just too much Gordon Hayward for any King to handle. The Jazz ran away with it early, and the Kings looked like they checked out.
Utah effectively ended the game in the first quarter with a 17-6 run. Sacramento's offense is deplorable bereft of strong point guard play. There are passes, but it just seems like players take turns going one on one. In Elijah Millsap 's first career start the plan should have been to attack him, instead we got to see Rudy Gay and DeMarcus Cousin take increasingly difficult shots because of some sort of disproportionate ego issue that remains unresolved. Gordon Hayward was on target early and knew that he was the most talented player on the floor. He proved it from the get go. Tyrone Corbin was forced to take two time outs in the first quarter, one when the score was 11-4, and another when the score was 19-8. When have we seen that? You could tell this game was important to him.
DeMarcus Cousins is a problem. He is obviously good, and big, and when directed appropriately can get things done. But it's just too easy to get him out of a stable orbit and make the game more difficult for him. He has a chip on his shoulder whenever playing against Derrick Favors, who was picked two spots ahead of him in the 2010 NBA Draft. Favors is a good defender who can challenge his shots, and now is good enough to hit jumpers and patient enough to score inside. What really bothers Cousins is Kanter, who went to the same NCAA stop-over of Kentucky, who is much stronger who is an actual back to the basket big who can physically match up with him. Kanter forcing Cousins to post up at 17 feet instead of 5 feet from the rim makes Cousins go bonkers. Kanter scoring on Cousins on on one, by going TO the rim, or scoring with a little hook shot after setting it up with fakes, makes Cousins go absolutely coo-coo for crazy-puffs. Sadly for Cousins after one of those guys goes to the bench he is defended by Rudy Gobert -- who is faster than him, can score in tradition, and challenge every type of shot without even jumping.
For the Jazz the game plan was the play through Hayward, which worked; and try to goad Cousins into trying to beat the Jazz by himself. And that also worked.
It's crazy but in the second quarter when Cousins was out, and Reggie Evans was in, it appeared like the Kings could do more damage in the paint. Evans works hard on the glass and knows his limitations. It's going to be interesting to see what his role will be with George Karl taking over after the All-Star break. But against the Jazz bench he looked quite good, as the polar opposite of Rudy Gobert. The second quarter showed the Kings checking out though. They did not make many efforts to get into this game, and the Jazz coasted to an 11-3 run in the middle of it with little opposition. Snyder had to go to Steve Novak and Ian Clark for minutes in this quarter, yet Sacramento's game plan remained to pound it inside or work for pick and pops instead of attacking our lack of guard depth.
Gordon Hayward continued to torch Sacramento in the 2nd half. Utah went on a 15-2 run, extended the lead to 23 points, and never looked back. The Kings did not get back into this game in any way, shape, or form. And the average margin over the 48 minutes of this game (or 2,880 seconds) was +12.13 points in favor of the Jazz. The most impressive thing was watching the "Where are you watching from" segment that showed people watching ROOT Sports from India. (Sorry Boler and Harp, the game is picked up by Indian sports channels because it was the Kings, and Vivek owns them, and he's a billionaire from India -- and not because these guys are specifically now Jazz fans. They should be though.)
Trevor Booker didn't get into the game until the middle of the fourth, and didn't look back as he detonated for huge blocked shots, and a number of jumpers that banked in. Trey Burke even found him, and passed to him, in transition for a nice Oop finish. But as the game wore on and the Kings had no chance of victory it got a little ugly. Harder fouls were had. DeMarcus played part of the fourth without his headband, and then played with it on for a bit, and then fouled out. He is an odd bird, not unlike Ron Artest (Metta World Peace). I wonder does Sacramento boast a great mental health hospital system? (Or do these guys going there indicate that there is a need of one?)
This game was over in the 2nd quarter, and it was nice to see our team win at home, which is sadly a rare thing.
After having poor performances in Phoenix, Kanter and Burke bounced back. Enes finished with 17 points, 13 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1 steal. Trey had 10 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, and no turn overs off the bench. You may remember these two really stunk it up in Phoenix (combined for 11 points total, on poor shooting). What a difference a day makes, huh?
Derrick Favors had yet another 20 point game, and added 9 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 blocks. Gordon Hayward led the team again with 30 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, and a great end to end play to beat the buzzer when the Kings were sleeping.
Elijah Millsap had 7 and 7, with 3 assists, and a lot of gritty defense in his first NBA start. Dante Exum is showing signs of getting out of his funk, and made some great passes, and got his hands on a lot of balls / deflections on defense. Rudy Gobert only played 17 minutes because his lack of overt strength was a detriment to him, but combined with Booker, they managed 13 points, 5 rebounds, 3 blocks. Not bad.
This was Gordon's game to show the NBA that he was / is better than the All-Star replacement they made for DeMarcus Cousins. DMC is getting stats on a bad team, a team worse than the Jazz. Hayward is putting up numbers and leading his team to victories. Meh. That's how I see it though.