December Dates with OKC Will Be Valuable Down the Stretch

Utah Jazz Tickets

SACRAMENTO — The Utah Jazz hopes to do what the Sacramento Kings did to them four days ago when the clubs meet for a third time this season on Sunday night.

The Kings will be opening a three-game homestand on the second day of a back-to-back, having taken the Golden State Warriors to the wire on Saturday night in a 117-116 road loss.

The Jazz had just returned from a five-game trip when it was surprised 119-110 by the Kings on Wednesday.

The Kings’ win turned the tables on Utah, which had opened the season with a 123-117 win at Sacramento.

The clubs have played two high-scoring affairs this season, which is not unusual for the Kings. They have stepped up the pace this season to the point where they rank second in the NBA in pace of play.

That has put a burden on the Sacramento depth, and the group has responded. Rookie Marvin Bagley III came off the bench with a 20-point, 17-rebound double-double against the Warriors, while Justin Jackson (12 points), Harry Giles (10) and Bogdan Bogdanovic (10) also scored in double figures as reserves.

The Sacramento bench dominated its Golden State counterparts in the game, 58-22.

That depth is one reason Kings coach Dave Joerger decided to change offensive tactics this season, he told reporters Saturday night.

“We felt like it was the best thing for the most number of players,” he said of the faster pace. “Willie Cauley-Stein can get up and down the floor, open up transition looks from three for Buddy (Hield). We’ve got Bogdanovic who can play as a playmaker or a shooter, and we brought in Nemanja Bjelica, who can stretch the floor for the No. 1 reason, which is we feel like we have one of the fastest point guards in the league (in De’Aaron Fox).

“It just serves all of those things.”

The Jazz headed north after a 90-83 loss in Los Angeles against the Lakers on Friday. It was Utah’s third straight loss overall and fourth in their last five road games.

When asked after the game if he thought his team might be overconfident after a run to the Western Conference semifinals last season, Jazz coach Quin Snyder insisted his 8-11 club was just following the same path as last year’s edition, which opened 19-28.

“There were times last year we weren’t a very good team. We were able to work through that, and that’s why we became a good team,” Snyder noted. “No different (now) – there’s always adversity, there’s always challenges. It comes in different shapes and sizes.

“Certainly right now, the fact that we’re talking about all this, it’s real. But at the same time, we just need to be better. A lot of it, for us, is just digging in.”

The Jazz dug in a little late in Wednesday’s home loss to the Kings.

After Sacramento had built a 105-88 lead with a 16-1 run, the Jazz rallied within 114-110 before running out of time.

The game featured Cauley-Stein getting the better of Utah’s defensive-minded Rudy Gobert, going for 23 points.

Gobert countered with 13 points, 15 rebounds and two blocks, but fell short in the key head-to-head statistic.

Cauley-Stein also went for 23 in the loss to Utah on Opening Night. That time, Gobert got the better of him with 19 points, 15 rebounds and three blocks.

Utah hopes to get standout guard Donovan Mitchell back for the Sacramento game. He suffered bruised ribs in the Lakers game and didn’t return after playing just 12 minutes.

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