SACRAMENTO — Perhaps the Sacramento Kings were just trying to lull the Utah Jazz to sleep Thursday night at Golden 1 Center since they’ll be playing each other again next week. How else can you explain how bad the Kings looked against the Jazz when they fell behind by 29 points in the first quarter and by as many as 38 in the first half?
The Kings tried to make it somewhat respectable in the second half, but the Jazz still won by 39 points, 132-93, despite not even playing their main guys in the second half.
It was the final preseason game for both teams as the Jazz improved to 5-0, the second straight season they’ve been perfect in the preseason, while the Kings fell to 2-3. The big question is: How did the Kings win two preseason games?
Sacramento looked awful, either that or the Jazz were very good. The Kings managed only 10 points in the first quarter on 4-of-27 shooting, while the Jazz scored 39 on 12-of-20 shooting from the field.
You would have thought the Jazz were again playing the Perth Wildcats or Adelaide 36ers, a pair of Australian teams they toyed with at home in their first two preseason games of the season, the way this one went.
Before the game, coach Quin Snyder said he wanted to see a better defensive effort from his first group after a “poor” performance Sunday at Portland. He got it as Joe Ingles and Rudy Gobert both blocked shots in the opening two minutes and an aggressive defense forced the Kings into several poor shot attempts.
“I thought we came out with the right mindset and Rudy did a good job protecting the rim,” Snyder said. “They got in the paint more than I would like, but we impacted some shots. Those are also some shots they’re going to make at times. We played better defensively but there’s more there.”
None of the Jazz starters played more than 18 minutes as Snyder was able to clear his bench early and rest his starters in the second half.
Gobert finished with 18 points on 7-of-8 shooting and also grabbed seven rebounds. Derrick Favors, the only starter to play in the second half, finished with 11 points and 12 rebounds. Donovan Mitchell had 13 points, including 3 of 5 from long range, Ingles had six points, five rebounds and three assists, while Ricky Rubio only scored two points, but dished out six assists.
Grayson Allen didn’t play until the second half, but he put up another good line as he finished with 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting, including a pair of 3-pointers. Alec Burks had another solid game with 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting.
Mitchell said the Jazz played their best game so far and were motivated by earlier slow starts, particularly in their last two games.
“The biggest thing for us is we’ve been getting off to some slow starts and we wanted to go out there and take advantage from the beginning,” Mitchell said. “We turned it up that’s where we need to be all year. We came out showed we can do it and that’s the way we should be playing the rest of the year. I think that’s the best we’ve played all season.”
Before the game, Snyder had said he wanted to “give the guys who come off the bench some more opportunity to play and let them feel the NBA a little bit.” He had no idea that he’d be able to clear his large bench as all 13 of the Jazz reserves were able to play at least a couple of minutes and 11 of them scored.4 comments on this story
After leading 39-10 after one quarter, the Jazz increased the lead to 71-35 at halftime and although the Kings cut the margin in the third quarter, the Jazz led by as many as 44 in the fourth.
However, Snyder isn’t expecting another easy game Wednesday.
“The regular season is a totally different game than tonight,” he said. “We can’t expect anything to be the same. Both teams have some time before the game.”
After playing Sacramento Wednesday, the Jazz will play their home opener Friday night against Golden State.