The Utah Jazz opened the new season with an embarrassing loss to the Sacramento Kings. The Jazz looked sluggish in the first half and couldn’t find any intensity on the defensive end. It puts a damper on opening day for Jazz fans, but give credit to the Kings; they came out with fire and intensity and it carried through the whole game. This isn’t your dad’s Kings team and they are going to be a force to be reckoned with in the NBA this year.
Utah looked a step behind the Kings for a good portion of the game. The offense looked choppy in the first half, with a lot of players standing around and a lot of one-on-one basketball. The defense was even worse, allowing the Kings to make an endless amount of threes and Kings forward Harrison Barnes to explode for 27 points. In the second half, the ball movement and offensive execution improved but the Jazz still couldn’t get stops when they needed them most. There were some bright spots for Utah tonight. Keyonte George had a nice debut with 8 points, 2 rebounds, and 2 assists. Lauri Markkanen and newcomer John Collins both had a double-double, even though neither of them played their best game. Another problem area for the Jazz tonight was offensive rebounds and that is something that can be fixable
The Kings look like they are primed for a great season. For the first time in a long time, they have continuity and they have a good coach in reigning coach of the year, Mike Brown. Even though it’s not sustainable, they shot lights out tonight and buried the Jazz with a whopping 19 threes to the Jazz’s 9. I think the most impressive accomplishment for the Kings was being able to withstand several Jazz mini-runs and would not let the Jazz gain momentum. To be able to do that on the road on opening night in a place that is hard to get a road win, is quite the feat. The Kings finished with 5 players in double figures and were led by Harrison Barnes with 33 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 assists.
One game won’t make or break anybody’s season but It is concerning for the Jazz that they came out a little bit flat and didn’t show a lot of defensive effort for large chunks of the game. On the flip side, most of the problem areas for the Jazz are things that can be fixed and will improve as the chemistry of this team increases. Sacramento will play host to the Golden State Warriors on Friday night for their home opener and Utah will get another shot for their first win at home vs. the Los Angeles Clippers.