The Utah Jazz (46-29) defeated the Sacramento Kings (29-46) in very, well, strange fashion. The final score said 112-82, and in most circles that’s a blowout. And for much of the game it was out of reach. However, having sat through this game it was waaaaay waaaay waaaaaaaaaaay closer than the final score.
It was a two point game a few times, but a ‘glass half full’ way of looking at this was another wire-to-wire victory. After one quarter it was 34-14, and at the end of the game it was 112-82. So a 20 point lead became 30. I guess that’s what we should be focused on, right?
Both teams were looking for players to step up because so many regulars were just not in this one. The Kings were without the services of Rudy Gay, Arron Afflalo, Kosta Koufos, Garrett Temple, and Malachi Richardson. The Jazz were without George Hill, Derrick Favors, and Raul Neto. Joel Bolomboy collected another DNP-CD. (He’s at that Dee Brown level of hell where he can’t even get into a blowout game.)
I’d say that Ben McLemore really stepped it up for the Kings. His tremendous play in the second quarter made it a very close game and he was just a one-man wrecking crew. He would finish the game with 22 points (9/12 shooting!). Ty Lawson, on the flip-side, was held to just 11 points (even though he shot 4/5). In the previous two games against Utah he had dropped 19 each time. But the Kings just didn’t have the talented to hang with Utah for 48 minutes. And it showed. Shooting 13.3% from downtown doesn’t usually keep you in games when you are missing five rotation guys.
Utah was down two point guards and Alec Burks continues to not be a viable option right now - but seldom-used Shelvin Mack had quite the game. Especially in the brutal parts of a, then, close game his ability to keep the dribble alive and score with floaters kept Utah ahead of Sacramento. Mack had his best game in a long, long time, and finished with 14 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1 steal in 29 big minutes.
They were big because Dante Exum couldn’t buy a bucket tonight, he went 0/6 from the floor and an awful 0/5 from deep. Each of these threes that he took were set shots with no one around him. The inability to make a jumper really hurt the team’s floor spacing and contributed to the Kings runs. If he can’t make a shot in the playoffs, I don’t know how much he’s going to play in the playoffs. And I’m a Dante fan, so saying that sucks.
Who really didn’t suck was Rodney Hood - who continues to shoot his way out of his mid-season funk. The Prince of Threes (TM - Jimbo Rudding) went 5/5 tonight from outside on his way to 18 points off of 8 shots.
Gordon Hayward did his thing with 20/7/4 and three threes. And yes Rudy Gobert had another double double (16/15) but he failed to block a single shot. So that breaks that active streak.
The game became a blowout and we got to see treats like this from Jeff Withey.
I’m happy for the win. A 30 point blowout is quite a statement. You got to pound the hurt and weak teams out there. It’s what John and Karl would have done. For all the negative / defensive press we’ve seen lately because of Rudy’s outburst it’s clear that the team HAS responded positively to it if we look at their on-court performances.
He is leading this team - being pissed off during the game because of the poor defense. Rudy is leading, and on nights like this it’s clear that after some more yelling his team is following.
The Jazz claim yet another road victory and have three more left in the regular season. But before they head out again (this Sunday to see the San Antonio Spurs on ABC) they will be facing the Washington Wizards (on the 3rd game in four nights on a long road trip) in Utah on Friday.
Also shout out to Diana and her daughter who were at this game - clearly you guys are good luck and the Miller family needs you to watch every Jazz game in person from here on out.