There is such a thing as an ugly win in basketball, as evidenced by Thursday night’s squeaker of a win for the Utah Jazz over the Sacramento Kings.
After a rocky fourth quarter, Al Jefferson made a lay-up off a lob from Devin Harris with 0.9 seconds left, giving Utah a big road win. The final score was 103-102, securing the fifth consecutive victory for the Jazz.
Including the game-winner, Jefferson had a smooth scoring game, abusing the Sacramento front court with 26 big points on 13 of 19 shooting. Gordon Hayward had another all-around performance with 18 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Harris chipped in 14 points and six assists.
The Kings were paced by Tyreke Evans’ 25 points, most coming off athletic and crafty drives to the hoop. DeMarcus Cousins had 22, Jason Thompson finished with 19, and Marcus Thornton added 16, including five big points in the final minute.
Emotions: As is the case with most close games, emotions were high for both squads, starting early. In the first quarter, Kings forward Cousins barreled into a stationary Harris while going for a loose ball. Cousins and Harris exchanged some words and the tone was set.
It was a chippy game, with both teams getting physical at times on defense. Bodies were flying and hitting the ground. Even with that, there were only 33 fouls called the entire game.
Sacramento was tagged with two technicals, one for forward Jason Thompson and one for Kings head coach Keith Smart.
Crashing the Boards: All the scouting reports were true: the Sacramento Kings love hitting the rebounds, especially those of the offensive persuasion. Overall, the hometown Kings outboarded the Jazz 55-45. The main difference was on the offensive glass, as Sacramento jumped, tapped, battled, and hustled its way to a remarkable 26 rebounds on its own basket. There was one possession alone that resulted in six second-chance opportunities.
Man-child Cousins led the way with 18, 10 on the offensive side. His front court partner, Thompson, added 15 of his own, with eight offensive rebounds.
Derrick Favors was Utah’s most productive board man with 10 in 22 minutes, to go along with 12 points.
Looks are Deceiving: A glance at the box score may make Sacramento look like the the victors. The team out-assisted (28 to 23), out-stole (10 to 4), and as mentioned, out-rebounded Utah. It had less turnovers (13 to 15), more points in the paint (70 to 54), a nice fast break scoring advantage (24 to 14), and 21 free throws (to Utah’s 17).
Besides one stat included below, Utah outshot its opponents, resulting in winning one vital category: the score.
Odds n’ Ends:
- Led by Favors’ and Jefferson’s four apiece, Utah finished with 14 blocked shots. Seven different players had a swat, including Jamaal Tinsley’s two.
- Tinsley had another fine effort, leading Utah with eight assists. He was able to set his teammates up for excellent shots throughout his 19 minutes.
- Brigham Young University star Jimmer Fredette played just eight minutes, all in the second quarter. He was able to hit two treys during that span, while collecting four rebounds.
- Forward DeMarre Carroll was productive, scoring six points in nine active minutes.
David Smith is providing instant analysis for Deseret News' Utah Jazz coverage this season. He works for LDS Philanthropies and also blogs for the Utah Jazz 360 website. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at davidjsmith1232.