Utah Jazz are no Kings of the road after loss in Sac-Town, 103-96
Steve Yeater, Associated Press
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The Kings didn't need The Jimmer to come through with a clutch shot this time.
The Jazz, on the other hand, sure could have used a heroic make by their fresh-faced former college poster boy.
Late in Tuesday's game, Gordon Hayward found himself in a somewhat similar situation to the one Jimmer Fredette was in last month at EnergySolutions Arena.
Down by two points. Late in the game. Chance to hit the potential game-winner.
The ex-Butler star, who led the Bulldogs to the NCAA championship game two years ago, just missed a go-ahead 3-pointer with 24 seconds remaining.
Marcus Thornton then made the Jazz pay by hitting a handful of clutch free throws in the waning moments to give Sacramento a 103-96 win over Utah at Power Balance Pavilion.
"Gordon unfortunately missed the shot in the corner," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said, "but I thought it was a great drive (by Devin Harris), a good play. He had a really good look. He just didn't make the shot."
Tuesday's setback was just the latest in a string of stinging losses for the Jazz, who fell to 3-12 on the road and 15-18 overall despite holding a lead in the fourth quarter. It was the fourth defeat in row for Utah.
"It's real frustrating and it's getting old," Jazz center Al Jefferson said. "You'd think after four games we'd know what it takes, but for some reason we can't get it. I don't know why."
The Jazz return home Wednesday night to face the Rockets, who beat them just over a week ago in Houston. That defeat was one of the 11 in the past 14 games slumping Utah has suffered.
"We've let the last couple slip in the last couple of minutes of the game," said Harris, whose team lost a heartbreaker in Minnesota prior to the All-Star break after leading by 16 in the fourth quarter. "They're hard lessons to learn, but hopefully we don't have to learn too many more of them."
Harris called Wednesday night's game against the Rockets "definitely a must-win for us."
Utah, which led by seven at one point, went ahead 87-85 early midway through the fourth quarter on a C.J. Miles layup.
But the Jazz had a damaging cold spell after that while Sacramento went on a game-changing 8-0 run to take a six-point lead.
Utah showed some fight in pulling within one point with two minutes remaining, and then had a chance to tie or go ahead in the final half-minute.
But Hayward missed his 3-point try with 24 seconds remaining, and Thornton hit five free throws in the final 18 seconds to clinch it.
Cousins led the Kings (12-22) to their third win in a row with 22 points and 18 rebounds. Thornton added 21 points, Thomas added 18 and Evans chipped in with 13.
Harris led the Jazz with 18 points, Josh Howard had 15 points, while Miles (13), Jefferson (12), Hayward (11) and Alec Burks (11) also hit double digits.
Paul Millsap had a rough night with four points and two rebounds, and he went to the bench injured late and was replaced by Favors down the stretch as the Jazz attempted to finish off the comeback.
Millsap said his bruised left heel was "sore," and he'll be re-evaluated this morning to see if he'll be able to play.
As for Fredette, the former BYU star didn't have near the impact in this one as he had in the Kings' 96-93 loss in Utah last month when he scored 14 points, went 3-for-5 from deep and had a chance to win it for Sacramento with a late trey attempt.
Jimmer only appeared Tuesday in the second quarter for 81/2 minutes. In that time, however, Fredette hit a long bomb, scored five points and made a pair of nice assists.
The rise of fellow rookie point guard Thomas and the return of shooting guard Thornton — along with Fredette's struggles — have limited the ex-Cougars' playing opportunities.
The win capped a night of celebration for the Kings. Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson and the Maloof brothers were given standing ovations after helping the city strike a deal to get a new arena necessary to keep the franchise in California's capital.
For Utah, though, it was just the latest tough one to swallow.
"It's frustrating," Harris said. "It's a game that we felt we should've won."
"It's just growing pains. I think the guys are playing hard. We're just making mental mistakes," Corbin added. "We've got to grow your way through it. I'm not disappointed in our effort. I think the guys are trying to play hard. I just think we're making mistakes that's costing us. It could be some mental. It could be inexperience together."
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