Jazz aim to keep home win streak alive vs. Kings

NBA Basketball

The Utah Jazz host Sacramento on Saturday night in Salt Lake City, and considering where the two teams are in the NBA standings, that doesn’t seem to bode well for the Kings.

Neither does the fact that Sacramento hasn’t won in Utah since Nov. 21, 2018.

One more tidbit of unpleasantness for the Kings?

The Jazz are the only team that has won at Vivint Arena in 2021. Since the Phoenix Suns escaped Utah with a New Year’s Eve victory, the Jazz have won a franchise-record 23 straight home games, and they’ve done it without the benefit of their usual loud-and-proud sellout crowd because of the pandemic restrictions.

Only three other NBA teams have at least 20 wins in their home arenas so far this season, and the next-best home team (Brooklyn) has lost six times on its own court.

In order to reverse Utah’s season trend — and Sacramento’s two-and-a-half-year drought — the Kings will need to get back to playing like they were during their five-game winning streak that preceded their current five-game losing streak.

Though De’Aaron Fox had a terrific outing with 23 points, nine rebounds and seven assists Thursday night, Sacramento lost a disappointing home game to the short-handed and last-in-the-East Detroit Pistons.

“That was absolutely unacceptable,” said Kings coach Luke Walton, whose team lost to the worst team in the West, Minnesota, just a few nights earlier. “It’s not OK. It’s frustrating. We’re making a lot of the same mistakes.”

That type of play won’t cut it against a Jazz team that has held the best record in the NBA for months. Utah has won 10 of its last 12 games, with the only losses coming earlier this week on the road when they had subpar 3-point shooting efforts against likely Western Conference playoff teams Dallas and Phoenix.

All-Star Donovan Mitchell, who’s playing at an MVP level now and scored 37 against the Blazers, called Thursday’s game against Portland “a must-win.”

“We kind of put our focus on that, not letting three go to teams who are playoff bound,” said Mitchell.

Utah’s consistently good defense was stellar in the pivotal third quarter against the Trail Blazers on Thursday. The Jazz limited Portland to just 19 points — while scoring 40 in the period — on just 31.8 percent shooting. A 25-4 run fueled the 122-103 win.

“Our defense was the biggest thing,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “And our defensive rebounding in the third quarter really broke the game open.”

Utah played without backup guard Jordan Clarkson, who had an ankle sprain. His status for Saturday’s game is unknown. Even without their reliable sharpshooter, who’s averaging a career-best 17.2 points, the Jazz managed to separate themselves from an excellent Portland team as the game progressed.

“It’s almost like we got better throughout the game,” Jazz center Rudy Gobert said after scoring 18 points and hauling in 21 rebounds. “Communication got better. Our aggressiveness got better.”

Longtime Jazzman Derrick Favors, now playing a role as Gobert’s backup, finished that Portland game with seven points. That was enough to help him surpass Mehmet Okur for 10th place on the Jazz career scoring list with 7,527 points. Mitchell sprayed Favors with water during a postgame interview to celebrate.

–Field Level Media

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Now Trending on KRQE.com

Albuquerque Hourly Forecast

Don't Miss

MORE IN DON'T MISS

Photo Galleries

MORE PHOTO GALLERIES

News Resources

MORE NEWS RESOURCES