We missed some shots, they got a little run going and we just never recovered. —Utah Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The Beehive State no longer has the BYU-Utah game to enjoy during rivalry week.
The Utah Jazz and Sacramento Kings and their ongoing nemesis relationship filled that void nicely this weekend.
Or not so nicely, depending on how you look at it.
Though the Kings didn't finish the night with the explosive and ejected DeMarcus Cousins, they did finish with a hard-fought 108-97 victory over the Jazz at Sleep Train Arena Saturday.
Sacramento's win — only the team's second in eight games — avenged the Jazz's 104-102 come-from-behind win in Utah on Friday. The Kings (4-9) also snapped Utah's three-game winning streak and pushed the 7-7 Jazz's road record down to 2-7.
"They did whatever it took to win the game," Jazz center Al Jefferson. "They did that."
For the Kings, that included being more physical and energetic, shooting 54.1 percent, outscoring the Jazz 56-36 in the paint, and rallying around each other after Cousins got first dibs on the showers in the third quarter.
"The third quarter, they came out (and) they were a little more aggressive there," said Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin, whose team was outscored 32-19 in that decisive period. "We missed some shots. They got a little run going. And we just never recovered."
Guard Tyreke Evans led the Kings with 27 points and even heard a scant "M-V-P!" chant in the final moments. He had 11 of his game-high scoring total in the decisive third quarter when Sacramento turned a five-point halftime deficit into an eight-point edge heading into the final period.
Randy Foye topped Utah with 17 points, while Al Jefferson and Jamaal Tinsley each added 14 points and Paul Millsap contributed 13.
But the Jazz simply didn't do enough on the defensive end to merit a road breakthrough, continuing a season-long trend.
"I don't think it was effort. We didn't have the energy we had last night," Corbin said, referring to Friday's victory in which Utah rallied out of a fourth quarter 13-point deficit. "We got down in a hole. We couldn't fight our way back out of it. They just broke the defense down."
Things got a bit wild late in the third quarter — and, hardly a shock, but Sacramento's loose cannon, Cousins, was at the center of the commotion.
Cousins, ever a mix of dazzling talent and undisciplined temperament, fouled Enes Kanter and then slapped the ball out of his hands following the whistle.
That resulted in another quick whistle and a technical foul. Kanter was lucky he didn't called for a tech for clapping in Cousins' direction, but the Sacramento center wasn't around long to respond.
Seconds after getting his first T, the 6-11 brute was ejected by referee Gary Zielinski for continuing his menacing moment.
The Jazz, however, couldn't capitalize.
Marvin Williams split the free throws, and the Kings closed out the Cousins-less quarter on a 6-2 run to take an 83-75 lead into the fourth quarter.
Jefferson said the Jazz didn't necessarily think things would automatically go their way when Sacramento's big man exited stage right.
"We kind of knew Chuck (Hayes) was going to come in and make a difference, so there was no time to relax," Jefferson said. "To me, that motivated them when he got kicked out of the game."
Utah pulled within four in the fourth quarter, but Sacramento's Thomas Robinson scored six of his nine points in a critical stretch as the Kings clinched it.
It got so bad for the Jazz in that pivotal moment that Foye missed three free throws after being fouled while shooting out deep on a night when he'd previously made four 3-pointers.
"When they made a little run, we kind of just got sidetracked," Jefferson said. "We didn't stick with what we were dong earlier."
Grueling and gut-wrenching have become the norm for these two old rivals. The teams split four games decided by a combined 12 points last season, and the three contests coming into Saturday's game had been decided by four points.
"It's always a tough game — either on our floor or their home floor," Corbin said. "They just seem to match up with us well."
Utah played without starting point guard Mo Williams, who suffered a moderate sprain in his right foot Friday. Tinsley filled in for Williams in the starting role, finishing with a season-high four 3-pointers, seven assists and three turnovers.
The Jazz can thank the hot hand of Foye for helping them turn an 8-0 deficit into a 29-21 first-quarter lead. The starting shooting guard, Utah's best outside shooter, went 4 for 5 from beyond the arc in the first quarter.
Overall, the Jazz came out cold yet again, struggling against the physical and athletic Kings. Despite taking a 56-51 lead into the locker room at halftime, Utah only shot 40.5 percent in the opening half compared to 53.8-percent shooting for the Kings.
A night after scoring 10 points and hitting three 3-pointers in 19 minutes, former BYU star Jimmer Fredette saw limited action in this showdown.
Fredette, who only averages nine minutes a night in his second season, only saw five minutes Saturday. He hit his only field goal — a familiar-looking floater in the lane — and drained two late free throws for four points. He also dished out one assist and made one turnover.
NOTES: The Jazz return home for a game against the Denver Nuggets on Monday night before hitting the road for a three-game trip in New Orleans, Oklahoma City and Houston. Utah and Sacramento play again on Feb. 4 at ESA. Tinsley went 4 for 6 from 3-point land Saturday after beginning the season 1 for 14 from beyond the arc.
EMAIL: [email protected]