by Alma Bean
Feature Image: Photo by José Luis Villega of AP Photo.
The Utah Jazz (19-18) takes on the Sacramento Kings (18-15) in their final game on this three-game road trip looking for a win.
Some Sugar-Free SacraMentos
Utah looked for their perimeter shots early, but they were nowhere to be found. In the first quarter, Utah went 1/7 (14.3%) from the perimeter but was saved by the abundant number of visits to the free-throw line. Utah went 8/11 (72.7%) from the line but still didn’t cover Utah’s struggle to put pressure on transition. Became so apparent that Utah struggles in transition that coach Will Hardy used his first timeout three and a half minutes into the game while trailing 13-6. Even with time to regroup, Utah still struggled to find an answer for Kevin Huerter (30/2/2) and Domantas Sabonis (28/11/8) who scored 17 of Sacramento’s 30 points for the quarter. Utah still managed to keep things close trailing 30-27 going into the second quarter.
Utah Jazz on Twitter: “Young Bull vs. the clock ⏱ #TakeNote https://t.co/P5wKYjp3MV” / Twitter
The second quarter looked to have a glimpse of improvement in Utah’s shooting but still struggled from the perimeter. Utah continued their long shooting woes by shooting 2/8 (25%) showing slight improvement but not by much. For Utah’s sake, thankfully Sacramento didn’t pull away with perimeter shooting going 3/9 (33.3%) for the quarter. With perimeter shooting not looking too great, Utah looked to their interior players. Walker Kessler (11/8/1) though he wasn’t up to his usual antics of getting blocks, he shot 3/3 (100%) for the quarter and made his dominance known. With Kessler’s presence being felt in the paint, Sacramento went 10/17 (58.8%) within the perimeter with only one making a bucket in the paint with Kessler on the floor. Both teams matched each other point-for-point with 30 apiece as Sacramento goes into the half with the lead of 60-57.
Utah Jazz on Twitter: “𝙱𝙻𝙾𝙲𝙺𝙴𝚁 Kessler becomes 𝚁𝚄𝙽𝙽𝙴𝚁 Kessler becomes 𝙳𝚄𝙽𝙺𝙴𝚁 Kessler https://t.co/1b84vCCPhD” / Twitter
Mike Conley: The Sleeveless Wonder
In the third quarter, things looked to have slightly slowed down for Utah. Perimeter shooting still was nowhere to be found but a focus on interior shooting came to the surface for Utah. Going 11/15 (73.3%) within the perimeter, Utah decided to feed into what was working rather than forcing an issue. Lauri Markkanen (36 points and 5 rebounds) got the NBA talking with an emphatic dunk he threw down on Sabonis. Even with jaw-dropping dunks, Utah struggled to break off on a run to gain the lead and went into the final quarter trailing 91-87.
Utah Jazz on Twitter: “(⌐■_■) ( •_•)>⌐■-■ ( •_•) Looks like an All-Star to us. VOTE: https://t.co/X4WJXzIrma https://t.co/z4O4u5FA2I” / Twitter
Though he hasn’t put up flashy numbers with points in his last few outings, Mike Conley (17/2/8) kept Utah in this game. His ability to see the floor and see the open man when no one is there able to create his own shot is unlike any other in the league. His playmaking ability rubbed off on Jordan Clarkson (25/4/9) in Sacramento. Both Clarkson and Conley looked like they knew they needed to bring Utah back into this game and their shooting showed that. Between the starting backcourt scoring 14 points, their assists gave them a contribution of 23 points in the fourth quarter. Utah had multiple opportunities to bring home the win, even having a 124-121 with 36 seconds left in the game, but games can’t be finished so easily. Huerter hit a momentum-shifting three to put Sacramento up 126-125 with nine seconds left in the game. Markkanen tried to win the game for Utah with his signature fadeaway jumper but came up short as Utah managed to lose 126-125 going home with three straight losses on the road.
Utah Jazz on Twitter: “back & forth we go 👀 https://t.co/ht1MJBnMic” / Twitter
Utah will return home to end the year 2022 against the visiting Miami Heat on Saturday as a part of a two-game homestand to get things back on track.