SALT LAKE CITY -- On their way to a 15-27 record, the Sacramento Kings have lost in many different ways this season. More often than not, it’s in the closing moments of games that they come up short.
That wasn’t the case Saturday night in Utah. From the opening tip, the Jazz jumped all over the Kings and they refused to let up.
“They’re obviously one of the best teams in the West,” Bogdan Bogdanovic said. “Even though they lost that winning streak against New Orleans, they showed they’re a really good team. After one bad loss at the end, they stepped it up against us and they showed their quality as a team. It’s frustrating, but we gotta look forward from this point. We can’t look back.”
At 29-13, the Jazz are one of the most complete teams in the NBA. They lost their 10 game winning streak Thursday in overtime against the Pelicans, but they are starting to move up the standing in the Western Conference.
With their 123-101 drubbing of the Kings, the Jazz are now just a half-game behind the Nuggets and the Clippers, who are tied for second in the Western Conference standings.
It wasn’t one player that did damage against the Kings. It was all of them.
Rudy Gobert dominated the post, scoring 28 points and grabbing 15 rebounds. With the Kings collapsing to paint trying to stop Gobert, Bojan Bogdanovic launched from the outside, hitting 6-of-9 from long range on his way to 30 points.
Donovan Mitchell worked the two-man game with Gobert to finish with 22 points and Jordan Clarkson came off the bench to drop in 20.
“We just have to be more physical on the defensive end,” De’Aaron Fox said. “You know, execute the game plan and live with the results. But I don’t think we did that. You know, Rudy [Gobert] got easy shots, easy layups, easy dunks. You know Bojan [Bogdanovic] got some easy ones. I just think, you know, throughout the game it was too easy for them offensively.”
The ball moved around effortlessly for Utah. They ran their playsets and while there wasn’t a lack of effort from the Kings, they seemed a step slow and completely out of sync.
“We’ve got to talk more, we’ve got to communicate more,” Marvin Bagley said. “Sometimes it happens so fast that we don’t communicate. If we keep allowing that to happen, we’re just going to get beat all game like we did tonight.”
It’s been a difficult season for Sacramento when it comes to injuries to key players. They got Bogdanovic back after a six-game absence with an ankle issue, but they are still missing starting center Richaun Holmes who may be back as early as later this week.
While missed games are part of the issue, the team is trying not to use it as an excuse.
“You can’t control the injuries, but we can control how we approach every day in practice, how we come together, how we try to lock in and win,” Bagley added. “I think if we continue to focus on what we control, then we’ll be alright and we’ll to where we want to be.”
The schedule doesn’t get any easier over the next few games. The Kings fly to Miami on Sunday where they’ll face a Miami team that is not on 29-12 on the season, but they are extremely physical.
Head coach Luke Walton is trying to make adjustments on the fly as he gets players back, but it’s a tall order. You add in Saturday’s trade that once again shook up the roster and the lack of continuity and overall playtime together is tough to overcome.
With 40 games remaining on the schedule, Walton has no other option but to continue to feed the core minutes together and hope that they find the chemistry that is currently missing on the court. With any luck, the current group stays healthy so the team can assess what they have and what they need heading into the offseason.