Former BYU star Jimmer Fredette's Kings to host Jazz tonight
Ravell Call, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY —
The last time the Utah Jazz saw Jimmer Fredette, he nearly beat them with a last-second, 3-point shot.
That was a month ago today when Fredette played the majority of the game, but misfired on a potential game-winner with five seconds left in Utah's 96-93 win.
It was one of Fredette's better games of the season, as he played 31 minutes and scored 14 points with 3-of-5 shooting from 3-point range.
Fredette will get another crack at the Jazz tonight in Sacramento, where the Kings and Jazz meet for the second time this season (8 p.m.).
That is, if he even gets a chance to play.
Since the Jan. 28 game at EnergySolutions Arena, things haven't been so rosy for the former BYU star.
He's played fewer minutes, never scored as many as the 14 points he had in Salt Lake and hasn't even gotten to play in four games, three because of the coach's decision. Fredette has also had to deal with a
minor uproar over critical tweets his older brother made about Sacramento coach Keith Smart.
During All-Star Weekend, Fredette was back in Utah, watching BYU defeat Portland on Saturday afternoon, while celebrating his 23rd birthday.
He hasn't had much else to celebrate lately.
Two main things have hurt Fredette's minutes since the first Jazz-Kings game — the return of starting guard Marcus Thornton and the emergence of fellow rookie Isaiah Thomas.
Thornton had been sitting out for several games with an injury when Fredette started, but returned to the lineup Feb. 2. Since then the former LSU guard has averaged. 20.3 points per game and leads the team with a 18.2 average. The Kings won four of their first five games when he returned to the lineup.
Then there's Thomas, who has moved ahead of Fredette in the pecking order and has even started four recent games. Thomas, a 5-9 guard from Washington who was the last man taken in last summer's draft, has upped his season average to 8.8 points per game.
Since the game in Utah, when he scored 13 fourth-quarter points to spur a Kings comeback, Thomas has averaged 11.6 points and 4.1 assists. In his last three games, he has scored 23, 24 and 18 points.
Meanwhile, since the game in Salt Lake, Fredette has played more than 20 minutes just once, in his "homecoming" game in New York, where he scored eight points in 25 minutes in a loss to the Knicks. His best game during that stretch was a 13-point performance at Minnesota when he went 5-for-8 and 3-for- 5 from 3-point range in 17 minutes. He has averaged just 6.3 points and 2.0 assists in nine games since the Jan. 28 game.
With their own troubles to worry about, the Jazz aren't overly concerned about Fredette heading into tonight's game.
"He can shoot it," said Corbin. "He's been a little sporadic of late, but he can come in a spread the floor and make baskets for them. So we can't afford to let him get off on us."
Guard C.J. Miles, who guarded Fredette some in the January game, said he knows all about Fredette and even went to see a BYU game in Provo last season.
"I get what the public thinks with him being from BYU, but I look at it like he's another opponent who's trying to keep us from getting a win," he said. "We all know he's a talented guy, but we can't mess up the game plan worrying about him."
Fredette hasn't complained publicly about his lack of playing time lately, although he did acknowledge that he'd never sat out of an entire game in his life before the Golden State win earlier this month.
"I'm just trying to be a good teammate," he said. "I'll keep working and finding ways to get better."
One person who did complain about Fredette's playing time was his brother T.J. who, after a Sacramento loss to Miami when Jimmer didn't play, tweeted, "can we please get rid of this interim coach who should be an assistant at best and bring in a real head coach!"
Jimmer, who was not too happy about it, had his brother erase the Twitter feed and apologized.
Jimmer told the Sacramento Bee that T.J. would not be criticizing the coach or team in the future, at least not on Twitter.
"I definitely talked to him about it," Jimmer said. "He obviously regrets it. He's sorry and I'm sorry on behalf of him as well. It's something that will never happen again. We just apologize to everybody — coaches, teammates and everybody."
As for Smart, he said he likes the eight- or nine-man rotation he's been using lately, but he's not giving up on Fredette. In fact, he wants him to look for his shot even more.
"We can work on the point guard (skills) this summer and we want Jimmer to make plays.," Smart told the Sacramento Bee. "But when he comes off a pick, he has to take that shot. He needs to become a little selfish."
And Kings assistant Bobby Jackson had this to say about Fredette.
"I don't worry about Jimmer. He's going to be a player in this league."
After tonight's game, the Jazz come home for a pair of games Wednesday against Houston and Friday against Miami. They go back to Sacramento for a game March 22 and play the Kings at home on March 30.
Jimmer by the numbers
First 20 games
(Minutes, assists & points are per-game avg.)
Minutes FG% 3-pt% Assists Points
24.1 36.5 38.0 2.1 8.8
Since Jan. 28 game in Salt Lake
Minutes FG% 3-pt% Assists Points
15.2 41.3 36.0 1.9 6.3Jazz vs. Kings
Utah (15-17) at Sacramento (11-22)
Tonight, 8 p.m.
TV: ROOT Radio: 1320 AM
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