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Instant analysis: Jazz do just enough to beat Kings, earn 40th win of the season



The Utah Jazz beat the Sacramento Kings, 128-112, at Vivint Arena on Saturday night, earning their 40th win of the season and 24th consecutive win at home.

A quick pre-note note: When the Jazz are playing pretty horribly and there are a lot of sloppy possessions, but they put together just a few minutes of good basketball, just enough to beat a bad team, it’s hard to say whether it was good or bad altogether.

On one hand, this is the regular season and there is very rarely a reason to put too much weight on any one game. And the Jazz did what they needed to in order to get the win. On the other hand, the Kings made the Jazz look silly and confused more often than composed and that’s not a good look for the team at the top of the NBA standings. I thought I’d just say this up top before we get into some more granular stuff.

High Notes

  • When the Jazz are engaged on defense and their spacing is where it is supposed to be they really do look unstoppable. Honestly, even when they are missing the shots, if they are the right shots there’s not a lot to be mad at. They had a short run in the third quarter, and then another one to close the fourth, where things were clicking pretty nicely. The way the Jazz closed out the game was the highest note for them.
  • In that fourth quarter run, Donovan Mitchell took over and led the Jazz with 14 of his 42 points and iced the Kings with a steal that led to a fast break where he caught a wide open Mike Conley in the corner with two minutes left to play.
  • Conley, who added 26 points in the win, was the most steadying force for the Jazz in the game. The Jazz went 0-of-8 from the field and 1-of-4 from the free throw line before Conley threw Rudy Gobert a lob for their first bucket. They’d gone nearly five minutes without hitting a shot. When they went 0-of-7 from 3-point range to start the game it was Conley who broke that drought.
  • Joe Ingles should also be mentioned as a constant for the Jazz. He added 20 points and six assists off the bench as well as being an important defensive presence to close out the game.
  • The rebounding effort from the Jazz was very good with Royce O’Neale getting 14 and Gobert racking up 11.
  • Georges Niang was right there with Conley trading 3s to break the Jazz drought. When there’s a lot of guys that are inefficient or going through slumps it’s nice to see one of the role players get going. That can be contagious.
  • Derrick Favors had a really good game and seems like he is hitting a little bit of a stride. This is such a good time in the season for him to be settling and looking like he has a bounce in him.
  • On the Kings side of things, Richaun Holmes had just an incredible game with 25 points, 10 rebounds, one assist, one block and one steal. Through the majority of the game he was making Gobert look pretty bad and was just the more energized of the two.
  • De’Aaron Fox, who had 30, is a tough, tough player and was just wonderful.

“Fox is maybe the quickest, if not one of top few, at pushing the ball. I think we got caught a few times with him pushing it, they got some great threes or got in the lane.” — Joe Ingles

  • The Kings are just a couple games back from being in the end-of-year play-in tournament and that means that they are one of the teams fighting for the 8th playoff seed and they came in playing like a team that was ready to fight.
  • Why the Kings decided to go small with Harrison Barnes in the fourth when Holmes was having such a good night was a weird decision. I get wanting to trap Mitchell, but it seemed to backfire pretty quickly and then Sacramento never really got back in it.
  • There really are quite a few things not to like about how the Jazz played. But let’s start with the offensive spacing. Without Jordan Clarkson creating shooting opportunities for the second unit, and with both O’Neale and Bogdanovic seeming to want to drive more than shoot from outside, the ball was not moving and that makes it really difficult to get open shots, not to mention anything for Gobert in the paint. The Jazz are not a team that operates well with the paint clogged and the Kings’ defense seemed to recognize that pretty early on and used their switches to make things even more difficult.

“I think we missed Jordan just for the sense of, he’s a guy that literally you throw the ball to him and he makes something happen. He’s making other teams over help, drawing two defenders. What was unique tonight about Sacramento is they switched one through five, and so we needed to find new ways to get close outs and get our so called blender going and getting their guys in rotation.” — Georges Niang

  • The spacing also leads to a lot more isolation and less ball movement, and then less efficient shots.
  • On the defensive side, the Jazz were pretty bad in transition and Gobert and Mitchell didn’t seem to be completely engaged until at least midway through the third quarter. Even then it was spotty until the final period. Like I said at the top, they did exactly what they needed to but there were a ton of lapses.

“It’s a concern from the standpoint that it’s something that you just want to demand of yourselves. I thought at the beginning of the game, and I’ve mentioned this before, all of a sudden you’re feeling Fox’s speed. Some of the breakdowns in transition are just communication, and so that’s something, talking as a habit, like running back, and you want to crash the offensive glass when it’s available because that’s another way to impact transition defense. If not, it’s not enough to just to be back. When someone’s running the ball, you got to be back and talking.” — Quin Snyder

Flat Notes

  • Early on Gobert and Ingles were fighting each other for a defensive rebound with no Kings around causing the ball to go out of bounds. Somebody yell, “same team,” sheesh.
  • Georges Niang hit a 3 midway through the fourth quarter and then was backpedaling down the court talking trash to the Kings bench, but then ran over Mo Harkless and fell straight on his rear. That’s not how you want to cap off a good play.
  • The Jazz would probably do well to come out to start a game the way the Kings did.

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