by Alma Bean
Feature Image: Photo by Trent Nelson of the Salt Lake Tribune.
The Utah Jazz (34-36) look to hold their ground against the Sacramento Kings (43-28) in their third meeting of the season.
Welcome the Crown
Shortly into this game, there was some Kessler-on-Kessler basketball violence. Kessler Edwards (6/1/2) used his momentum to take off and put Walker Kessler (10/8/2) on a poster. Edward’s time in the quarter was limited in the first quarter as he was hit with two fouls early. Even though Sacramento is the second-best team in the West, this didn’t faze Utah as they held them to 7/28 (25%) from the field. Utah showed that they are still able to produce with three of their five starters out for the game and still managing to shoot 15/25 (60%) from the field. With rookies like Simone Fontecchio (12/1/3) stepping up in the starting lineup, scoring six points off 2/3 (66.7%) perimeter shooting, Utah finished the quarter with a surprising 40-19 lead.
Utah Jazz on Twitter: “we all felt THaT one #TakeNote | @thortontucker https://t.co/U7Z9FNNt8l” / Twitter
Utah’s bench continued to thrive in the second quarter, but Sacramento was ready to fight back. Kris Dunn (11/3/2) is making the most of his revival this season continuing to drive toward the basket while shooting 4/5 (80%) from the field this quarter. After being down by as much as 23 points, De’Aaron Fox (37/4/7) stepped into high gear. Fox alone shot Sacramento out of their slump going 5/6 (83.3%) from the field including 3/4 (75%) from the perimeter. Fox accounted for 14 of Sacramento’s 33 points in the quarter. As the quarter came to a close with a 68-52 lead for Utah, Kelly Olynyk (19/10/8) was utilizing all aspects of his game as he had 14/5/5 leading Utah scorers.
Utah Jazz on Twitter: “here’s a dunk ✨with krizz✨ https://t.co/eVPD2AxJhf” / Twitter
Light the Beam or Highlight the Win
Sacramento kept momentum on their side going into the second half. In the third quarter, Sacramento shot 14/23 (60.9%) including 8/15 (53.3%) from the perimeter. Keegan Murray (22/6/1) was responsible for 5/7 (71.4%) from the perimeter in the quarter showing that he’s a notable rookie in this league. The third quarter belonged to Sacramento as they outscored Utah 43-27 with the help of Domantas Sabonis (11/12/9). Sabonis showed why he’s one of the best passing big men in the league as he would look for the open man rather than scoring just on his own bucket. Sacramento with momentum on their side went into the final quarter with everything tied up at 95-95.
Utah Jazz on Twitter: “🎭 the @RudyGay way 🎭 #TakeNote https://t.co/KAJhwsTJ1v” / Twitter
With this matchup now tied, both teams could go into this quarter with a clear mindset of winning the quarter. The unsung hero from Utah’s bench was three-year vet Udoka Azubuike (13/8/1) who not only contributed six points in the quarter but scored a career-high 13 points. Another Utah player reached a career-high in points this game, but with fewer games under their belt. Ochai Agbaji (27/5/3) led Utah in scoring with 27 points while going 6/10 (60%) from the perimeter. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, Utah was saved in this game by the blocking ability of Kessler. With the lead changing from team to team down to the final two minutes, Sabonis tried to show his dominance against the rookie, but Kessler was able to defend his home with five blocks for the night. After a succession of free throws in the closing minute, Utah got the win 128-120.
Utah Jazz on Twitter: “puttin’ the 𝚋𝚕𝚘𝚌𝚔 in Blocker Kessler 🤠 https://t.co/pOHCctrGSC” / Twitter
Utah will be back at it at home on Wednesday against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Utah Jazz on Twitter: ““My teammates kept me confident through it all and I’m thankful for that.” 🎤 @youngoch joins @sportsiren with the #WalkoffInterview #TakeNote | @lhmauto https://t.co/uvRMYTT4Hw” / Twitter