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Effort an issue early in Kings' loss to Jazz

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USATSI

Effort an issue early in Kings' loss to Jazz

SACRAMENTO -- The Sacramento Kings fell to the Utah Jazz Saturday night by a final of 98-91. It wasn’t a particularly pretty game. The Kings couldn’t hit a shot early, hitting just 29 percent from the field in the first quarter.

They continued the trend in the early second, falling behind by as many as 18, before rallying to cut the deficit to just nine at the half.

Coach Dave Joerger wasn’t happy with his team’s effort following the loss and neither was his rookie point guard.

“Definitely, the first half effort could have been much better,” De’Aaron Fox said following the game. “We came out and since we were at that deficit, the energy kind of picked up, but that first half energy, we came out like we were on the back-to-back and not them.”

The Kings continued their shooting woes in the third quarter, knocking down 7-of-21 from the field. At the 5:47 mark of the quarter, the Jazz pushed their lead back to 18 and it looked like it might be another blowout loss for the Kings on their home court.

Like the second quarter, Sacramento finished strong. Frank Mason hit a 3-ball with 26 seconds remaining in the period to bring the Kings within nine heading to the final frame.

Utah pushed their lead as high as 14 on multiple occasions in the fourth, but the Kings worked it down to six in the final minute. They made it a free throw contest late and the Jazz answered, hitting 3-of-4 at the stripe to keep the Kings at arms length and pick up the win.

Fox led the way with 17 points on 7-of-14 shooting. Bogdan Bogdanovic added 15 points and five rebounds and Zach Randolph and Skal Labissiere each score 12 in the loss.

Labissiere fills up the box score -- Since returning from injury, Skal Labissiere looks a lot more confident. With his shot not falling against the big frontline of the Jazz, the second-year big found different ways to help his team.

“Just rebound, block shots - all the little things - whether my shots falling or not,” Labissiere said of his performance. “I think one things I can control is my effort.”

The 21-year-old Haitian finished the night with 12 points, 12 rebounds, three assists and three blocked shots in 29 minutes of action. He shot just 4-of-10 from the field and turned the ball over four times, but Labissiere battled against Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors, who both have a huge size advantage over him.  

“I thought he played through contact a couple times and that’s some stuff he’s been working on,” Joerger said.

Since returning six games ago, Labissiere is averaging 11.2 points, five rebounds and 1.3 blocks in just under 28 minutes per game.

Spreading the Minutes Out -- With the Kings playing for the fourth time in six nights and knowing that they have another game Sunday at Golden 1 Center, Joerger distributed the minutes evenly amongst his players.

Eight Kings played 25 minutes or more and rookie Frank Mason came off the bench for 21 minutes in the loss.

Sacramento returns to their home court Sunday for the second night of a back-to-back, completing a brutal stretch of five games in seven nights.

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