The Sacramento Kings needed just three players to score in double figures to beat the top team in the Western Conference in their most recent outing, but they cannot expect to keep up that kind of distribution and keep winning.
The Kings host the Utah Jazz on Friday night, two nights after three Sacramento players scored at least 31 points against the Nuggets. Malik Monk led the way with 33 points as his free throw with 0.7 seconds remaining proved to be the difference in the 127-126 victory.
De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis each scored 31 and recorded double-doubles, as Fox dished out 13 assists and Sabonis hauled in 10 rebounds.
Their outings helped Sacramento overcome a 19-point deficit late in the third quarter and a 40-point showing by Nikola Jokic. The reigning MVP missed a 3-point shot at the buzzer.
“Sacramento played really well,” Jokic said. “It was not just one guy. We couldn’t stop a couple of them.”
The rest of the Kings combined for only 32 points, as Harrison Barnes, Keegan Murray and Kevin Huerter – all of whom average double-figure scoring – made just six of 20 shots and combined for 19 points. Still, Sacramento managed to win for the first time in three games, beating a Denver team that had defeated them 113-106 the previous night.
“I felt like we were bigger and when you play big it’s harder for them to share the basketball,” said Kings acting head coach Jordi Fernandez. “Our activity, our communication, our willingness to fly around, I feel like that really changed the game.”
Friday’s game will be the first of four this season between the Kings and Jazz, who play again on Tuesday in Utah.
While the Kings were pulling off their nice win, the Jazz were blowing a double-digit lead and suffering a disappointing 112-107 defeat at Golden State. The Warriors didn’t have Steph Curry, Klay Thompson or Andrew Wiggins.
Jordan Poole led Golden State over Utah with 26 points.
Utah managed just 13 points in the fourth quarter on a night when Lauri Markkanen amassed a 29-point, 16-rebound double-double but went scoreless in the fourth quarter. Jordan Clarkson added 22 points, but Utah shot just 40.7 percent from the field for the game – including 16 percent (4-for-25) in the fourth quarter as Golden State reversed a 94-88 deficit.
It was the second ugly loss in a row for Utah, which fell at San Antonio on Monday night in another winnable game.
“We’re all competitive and we want to win every single night,” Jazz coach Will Hardy said. “But there’s nights that you can play poorly and win, and there’s nights that you can execute what you want to, play the way you want to play, and things just don’t go your way.”
The game in Sacramento wraps up a three-game road trip for the Jazz, who return home to play immediately on New Year’s Eve against Miami.
“I think it’s really important for our guys to understand that the result (Wednesday night) does not necessarily reflect how they approached the game as a team,” Hardy said. “We have a big game at Sacramento to close out this road trip, and you know it’s on us as a staff and a team to maintain some perspective and try to approach this next game the right way.”
–Field Level Media