Without Donovan Mitchell, Jazz search for answers vs. Kings

NBA Basketball

Consistent offensive execution for four quarters has become a problem for the Utah Jazz in Donovan Mitchell’s five-game absence.

The Western Conference-leading Jazz enter Wednesday’s game against the Kings at Sacramento on a two-game losing streak.

Utah followed the same formula while dropping consecutive games against Minnesota on Saturday and Monday. In both games, offensive execution stagnated over the final three quarters after the Jazz opened up with a brilliant first quarter.

Utah (44-17) scored just 56 points over the final three quarters in a 101-96 loss to the Timberwolves on Saturday. The Jazz fell 105-104 on Monday night on a go-ahead basket from D’Angelo Russell in the final seconds after scoring just 37 points over the second and third quarters. Utah went ahead on Mike Conley’s 3-pointer with 6.4 seconds left, but a defensive mistake from Rudy Gobert allowed Russell to get an easy layup.

“There was a miscommunication,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “Mike switched out and Rudy went back to (Karl-Anthony) Towns.”

Mitchell is expected to be out of action for at least another week while he continues to heal from an ankle sprain. Utah hasn’t been able to replace his ability to create shots and give the offense a lift at critical junctures.

The Jazz missed 41 shots from 3-point range on Monday night. Joe Ingles went 3-of-13 — missing his final nine attempts. Jordan Clarkson was 1-of-10 from long distance, and Bojan Bogdanovic was 1-of-7.

As a team, Utah shot just 28.1 percent from 3-point range in its second loss to Minnesota.

“We’re a team that relies on our guys making open shots, shooting open shots, and creating for each other,” Conley said. “We’ve had opportunities the last two games, and we’ve had uncharacteristic-type performances from a lot of people.”

Just like the Jazz, Sacramento is trying to find ways to win while a star is sidelined.

The Kings (25-36) picked up a 113-106 victory over Dallas on Monday in their second game playing without De’Aaron Fox, who is expected to miss up to two weeks in NBA health and safety protocols. Tyrese Haliburton had 14 points and 10 assists while making his second straight start in place of Fox. Richaun Holmes led Sacramento with 24 points.

Haliburton struggled with missed shots and turnovers — going 2-of-9 from 3-point range and committing four turnovers — but he found ways to get his teammates going when the Kings needed it.

“The turnovers, the missed shots, the mistakes that I make, I use them all as learning experiences,” Haliburton said. “I feel like I have the potential to play a lot better than I have been. That’s part of it, part of the development and part of the growth.”

Utah rallied to beat Sacramento 128-112 in Salt Lake City on April 10. Mitchell scored a season-high 42 points in the contest — which included his 15-of-17 performance from the free-throw line. The Jazz rallied from a 10-point, third quarter deficit and went ahead for good behind a 19-4 run late in the fourth quarter. It spoiled a night for Holmes where made his first eight field-goal attempts en route to scoring 25 points for the Kings.

–Field Level Media

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