Utah Jazz: Rivalry renewed with Kings in tough loss
Last-second shot to win comes after the buzzer
Ravell Call, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — It seems a rivalry has been reborn.
Only statues and occasional glimpses remain of Karl Malone and John Stockton. Jeff Hornacek is coaching, Chris Webber is yukking it up on TV and who knows where in Serbia Vlade Divac happens to be.
There's a new cast of characters, including the allegiance-splitting Jimmer Fredette.
But make no mistake. A decade or so later, the Utah Jazz and Sacramento Kings are back at bruising each other, boiling each other's blood, evoking crowed emotions and battling it out in physical and tight games like the small-market nemeses they used to be back in the day.
"It did get a bit chippy," Jazz swingman Gordon Hayward said. "That's just two teams wanting to win."
The lottery-bound Kings are the ones who got the last laugh on Friday night, delivering a painful blow to the playoff-pushing Jazz after officials confirmed that Al Jefferson's successful tip came about a millisecond too late in a 104-103 Sacramento victory at EnergySolutions Arena.
"It was tough to lose this one," Jefferson said.
Big Al was the one who delivered the winning punch just a week ago in Sacramento when he dropped in a go-ahead bucket with 0.9 seconds remaining to keep the Jazz's winning streak alive.
This time, however, Jazzland's new favorite villain — DeMarcus Cousins, not Fredette — put the final point on the scoreboard to give the visitors the win with his free throw at the 3.8-second mark.
Gordon Hayward had a chance to win it for Utah, but he drove the lane and missed a last-second shot. That sent Jefferson and Derrick Favors — Paul Millsap had fouled out — scrambling to tip in a putback.
Jefferson actually did that. But the game clock had already struck 0.0 — a fact verified by a video replay.
That sent the dejected Jazz back to their locker room with their third loss in four games, with heads lowered after suffering an almost unforgivable home setback to a team that only had 17 wins and with their team out of a playoff position.
"It's a tough loss," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said, echoing Jefferson's thoughts. "We came out from the beginning and didn't have the energy we thought we would have. We were lethargic and let them hang around, and I didn't think we executed our offense like we have been."
Though the Jazz surpassed the century mark in scoring, they took a whopping 88 field goals and 52 free-throw attempts to get there. And, yes, that included a whole lot of misses against a zone. They only shot 35.2 percent from the field and were off on 14 freebies.
Cousins scored 27 points with 14 rebounds to lead the Kings, who outpowered the Jazz in the paint to the tune of 54 points to 42.
Favors had a dreadful shooting night, missing all 13 attempts, and Millsap only took six shots en route to just 12 points before getting his sixth foul.
"We just didn't' get the job done," said Jefferson, who topped Utah with 27 points and 16 rebounds. "They wanted it badder than we did and they got it. That's all I can say about the game."
Not surprisingly, Cousins had plenty to say — after, that is, he saluted the sellout crowd while standing on the court with a big smile after the Kings' second win over Utah this season.
"It feels good, especially playing through the type of adversity we played through tonight," Cousins said. "It was definitely a big win for us."
The beefy 6-11 Cousins had multiple run-ins with the 6-3, 192-pound Devin Harris in previous games, but the Jazz's starting point guard only played 20 minutes on this night and they didn't mix it up despite the King big man's threats from last week.
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