SALT LAKE CITY – Where do I begin to try and recap this game? For starters, the Utah Jazz somehow ended up in overtime against the Sacramento Kings, and managed to hang on for a 98-91 win Monday night, improving to 27-22 on the season. However, a more shocking fact than the Jazz needing overtime to beat Sacramento in the Solution was the amount of crunch time minutes Utah combo guard Alec Burks saw down the stretch.
The start of the game was delayed slightly by some lights in the Energy Solutions Arena not turning on correctly (no, I’m not joking). When the lights went out in the Super Bowl on Sunday, the team sporting the home colors benefited a made an incredible run. The lights going out here in Salt Lake hurt the home team this time, as the Jazz came out with their usual lackluster effort. Utah seemed to be a step behind the Kings on defense, and there was absolutely no ball movement offensively.
Jazz O = standing around
More offensive passiveness from the Jazz starting unit. Everybody’s flat-footed, nobody moving on either side of floor
Now, the last two games for Utah, both against the Portland Trailblazers, saw very good starts on the defensive end. Against the Kings however, the Jazz just seemed to come out with the feeling that they didn’t really need to beat Sacramento, and that’s a big reason that this game went to over time. The defense from Sacramento wasn’t exactly something Tom Thibodeau would be proud of, and it certainly shouldn’t have resulted in the Jazz having such a poor start on the offensive end. Luckily, Utah’s bench made a push at the end of the first quarter to bring the score to 22-20 with the Kings on top.
The second quarter saw Jimmer Fredette take the court for Sacramento, much to the jubilation of some “fans” in attendance. Now,I’m going to take a break from recapping here and get on a bit of a soapbox. I don’t hate BYU, or Fredette for that matter. In fact, I have an autograph he signed for me after his 52-point performance in the Mountain West Conference tournament against New Mexico.
I’ll admit, Fredette captivated me during his magical senior season in Provo and I was very glad to see him get to the NBA. He’s now an NBA player, and not a good one at that. The hype that travels with him to Utah is ridiculous, and so many people cheering or booing him in the stands is unacceptable. If Fredette was a player of Kobe Bryant or LeBron James’ caliber, then all the jeering would be absolutely justified. However, he isn’t. So please, Jazz fans, the next time Fredette comes to Salt Lake, let the kid play and just cheer for the Jazz.
That aside, the second quarter saw a spark of energy from the bench. However, the Kings started to push the ball ahead of the Jazz defense in transition and really cause some problems for Utah’s reserves. Sacramento managed to do most of their damage in the second quarter in the transition game. Interestingly, a lot of teams lately have been pushing the ball against the Jazz in transition, because Utah’s transition defense isn’t as good as it should be. Utah managed to adjust to the Kings’ transition offense, however, and put together a good run towards the end of the half. The Jazz threw all that hard work away with some turnovers in the final minute, sadly, and went into the half up 44-43.
During this quarter, Kings forward DeMarcus Cousins got a technical foul for having a few words with a referee. Apparently, he didn’t say enough and felt he had a few more words to share. As the teams were walking to their locker rooms, Cousins had an altercation with a referee that resulted in him earning another technical foul and immediately getting ejected.
Good thing Cousins got ejected because I have a better chance of getting laid by Scarlett Johansson than Al Jefferson does checking DMC.
The Jazz needed to start the second half strong and play hard, as opposed to their flat start in the first half. The starters were outperformed by their bench and honestly, got outperformed by them in the third quarter as well. Sacramento came out playing scrappy and fighting, determined to get a win on the final game of their 6-game, 10-day road trip. The Jazz just came out flat again.
Timeout with 2:39 to go in 3Q… Jazz trailing 62-55 and have committed 19 turnovers (season-high is 20).
The Jazz would go on to commit a season-high 22 turnovers by the time the game was over. Again, I can’t stress how soft the Sacramento defense was. Cousins was out of the game due to his ejection, and the Kings weren’t exactly giving the same defensive effort Portland did during Utah’s last two games. The game was listless and the Jazz were down 66-62 after 3 quarters of basketball.
The fourth quarter opened up with some great plays by Jazz forward Derrick Favors and Burks. The two young guys had themselves a game Monday night, with Burks playing crunch time minutes down the stretch, and Favors ending up with an impressive stat line of 13 points and 9 rebounds. Despite their inspired play, Jazz coach Ty Corbin pulled Favors and Enes Kanter for Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap, hoping his veterans could close the 79-73 gap the Jazz faced with 5:45 left.
Despite a little more flow to their offense, the Jazz still couldn’t find a way to get a good stop on the defensive end. However, sharpshooter Randy Foye nailed a 3 to cut Sacramento’s lead to 82-78 with 3:46 left in the game.
After an entire game of no energy on the defensive side of the ball, the Jazz found a way to stop the Kings and responded with a Marvin Williams 3 that gave the Jazz an 83-82 lead with 2:22 left.
At this point in the game, veteran point guard Jamaal Tinsley was still on the bench. Young buck Burks was playing the point for Utah, seeing his first real clutch minutes. Corbin has often been criticized for not playing the young players enough, but decided to go with Burks down the stretch. His gamble paid off.
Ty is leaving Burks in with starters. Credit where it’s due.
After the game got tied up at 84 with under a minute to go, Foye missed a potentially game winning three and Sacramento corralled the rebound. The Kings called time out with 31.3 left, but guard Tyreke Evans missed a layup once play resumed.
The Jazz had the ball for a last, and potentially game winning basket, but messed up their play. The ball was thrown in bounds to Foye, who seemed to be waiting for Jefferson to set up a pick and roll. However, the Kings spotted it and forced Jefferson to roll out above the three point line, and Foye dished Jefferson the rock. Big Al hoisted a 3 as time expired and air balled it, sending the game to overtime.
#SACatUTA pbthrpbtbhthrvbrbbrbtphvrbt THAT was the play?! Smh
The Jazz team that came out in overtime was a completely different team than the one fans saw during regulation. Players were hustling, cutting, and getting back on defense. If they would have played with their overtime effort during the previous 4 quarters, the Jazz probably would have won by 10 or more.
Burks and Millsap both hit dagger jump shots down the stretch that contributed to a 92-87 Jazz lead with 1:06 left. At this point, Sacramento decided to play the foul game, and Utah mercifully made their free throws to put the game away and win 98-91.
Randy Foye led the Jazz in points with 20, and assists with 6. Al Jefferson pulled down 12 boards and put up 15 points, and Alec Burks ended up with 14 points in 31:14 of playing time.
Thompson scored 23 to lead the Kings in points, and also led the team in boards with 10. Tyreke Evans and Isiah Thomas both notched 3 assists to lead Sacramento.
Earl Watson and Gordon Hayward missed this game due to injury, Watson with his leg injury and Hayward with his shoulder sprain.
And lastly, a tweet that made me really laugh:
Somewhere, Raja Bell has no clue the jazz are playing.