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The Utah Jazz climb to 5th in the West with win over Sacramento Kings

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It wasn’t the prettiest, but it was worth it.

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

With New Orleans and Minnesota both losing during the Utah Jazz-Sacramento Kings game, the stage was set. With a win, the Utah Jazz would have climbed their way out of lottery hell and into 5th into the Western Conference. Unfortunately for Utah, Sacramento wasn’t going to do them any favors. With a 5th seed on the line, Sacramento’s young phenoms put on a show. Pushing the Jazz to the very end of a closely contested game with Utah ultimately winning 103-97.

Buddy Hield played like a man possessed from long range. He couldn’t miss. It was as if he Monstar’d Joe Ingles before the game. Hield finished with 23 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists. The entire Kings team shot the lights out from three finishing at 66% from 3 point range. That combined with Utah’s high amount of turnovers allowed the pesky Kings to stick around and even lead for much of the game.

The Utah Jazz’s bench didn’t do the team any favors tonight. Thrown off by the additional of Exum and, for whatever reason, having trouble cohesively playing together, Utah’s bench combined for only 15 points, 11 of which came from Jae Crowder. While Utah was able to survive tonight with a poor showing from their bench, this is definitely something that needs to be rectified before season’s end. With a playoff birth within reach, Utah’s bench troubles could spell doom if they don’t improve their play.

In the 4th quarter Donovan Mitchell began to take over. It seems that Donovan is a 2nd half player. Most of the 1st half of games appears to be when Donovan is analyzing how a team is playing him, then by the second half he has figured the team out. Donovan finished with 28 points tonight but only 1 of 8 from three.

Ricky Rubio, who suffered a knee contusion in the Phoenix game (THANKS, MARQUESE & JARED), finished with 16 points, 9 rebounds, and 5 assists. He played hard and didn’t look like he was limited by the pain in his knee.

The real hero on the night was Joe Ingles. Joe Ingles three at the end of the game pushed Utah ahead in the final two minutes while simultaneously breaking the all-time 3 pointers made in a season record previously held by Randy Foye. Honestly, it feels good to have Joe Ingles have the record. While Randy Foye worked hard for the record, he was more of a hired gun for the Jazz franchise limiting development for Utah’s young players. Ingles will be a lifelong Jazz player. This feels right.

Rudy Gobert continues his Defensive Player of the Year campaign. This time, in the final minutes when the game was decided by only a few points, Rudy Gobert sealed the game with a Defensive Player of the Year type block to ice the game in the final minute. Rudy Gobert finished with a monster 22 points, 13 rebounds, and 4 blocks. Rudy Gobert is taking another step in his development. It’s time we start talking about Rudy as a top 10 player in the league. This streak of Utah’s rests squarely on his shoulders.

Game Notes

Quin Snyder ran a lineup of Ricky Rubio, Donovan Mitchell, Dante Exum, Joe Ingles, and Rudy Gobert because why not?

Sacramento’s young squad seems to be putting the pieces together. If they had won in Utah it would have been their third straight game with wins over Utah, Golden State, and Miami. They’re learning. Congrats, Kings fans. You got a core you can work with.

Joe Ingles almost had a triple double. He finished with 14 points, 7 rebounds, and 9 assists. It would be fitting that Joe Ingles became the first Jazz player since Carlos Boozer to record a Triple Double.

Derrick Favors continues to be the unsung but special motor of this Jazz team. He does all the little things and has worked hard to make it possible that he and Rudy can be on the floor together and be effective. He finished with 10 points, 6 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 1 steal. I think I’m in the re-sign Derrick Favors camp now. It’s taken some time to convince me, but this pairing looks sustainable.

The Utah Jazz face off against the Atlanta Hawks on Monday for the last game of their home stand before they go on the road to face the Dallas Mavericks. The Jazz have a chance to win their 10th straight game.

[Correction: A previous version of this article said that San Antonio lost. That was incorrect. It was New Orleans.]