NBA

Kings End Road Trip With Underwhelming Finish In Utah

Nov 2, 2021, 9:00 PM | Updated: 9:15 pm
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH - NOVEMBER 02: Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz drives into Tyrese Halibu...
(Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
(Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

Sacramento held a 102-101 lead with five minutes remaining before things slipped from their grasp

Another game, another lackluster finish for the Sacramento Kings.

While the Kings battled the Utah Jazz for the second time in as many matchups this season, things would get out of hand late on Tuesday night. Donovan Mitchell caught fire in the third, Mike Conley controlled the fourth and the Jazz outlasted Sacramento in the fourth to pick up a 119-113 win at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City.

The Kings (3-4) will return home after a 2-2 road-trip on Wednesday night to face the New Orleans Pelicans at Golden 1 Center on the second night of a back-to-back.

Utah and Sacramento nearly went shot-for-shot in the first half, as the initial 24 minutes of action included 11 ties and 17 lead changes between the two teams.

After an abysmal Halloween performance from the three-point line during Sunday’s loss in Dallas (7/36, 19%), the Kings found a rhythm from the outside early on Tuesday. The Sacramento offense finished the first half six-of-14 (42%) from three-point land to pace themselves to a 59-58 lead at the halftime break.

While Davion Mitchell and Tyrese Haliburton combined to score 21 points (nine-of-18 from the field) in the first half, the main storyline would be the ongoing struggles for De’Aaron Fox.

Fox finished with 0 points and failed to convert all eight of his field goal attempts in the first half. Even with their franchise guard continuing to struggle, the Kings opened up the second half with a narrow lead over last season’s number-one seed in the Western Conference.

Utah’s All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell was red-hot in the third quarter, dropping 17 points in the period to put the Jazz back on top 90-87 heading into the fourth quarter.

Sacramento would be haunted by noted Kings-killer Mike Conley in the fourth quarter as the longtime vet drilled two triples early in the fourth to extend Utah’s lead to 101-92 with less than nine minutes remaining. Just when things seemed to be getting out of control, the Kings answered with a 11-1 run to take a 102-101 lead with just over five minutes to go.

Conley, Buddy Hield and Bojan Bogdanovic traded three-point baskets on consecutive possessions as Utah regained the lead at 107-104 with less than four minutes in regulation. Following the three-point parade, Hield seemed to be fouled by Jazz center Rudy Gobert, but a coaches challenge would take away Hield’s chance at two free-throws.

Utah would regain possession and put the game away for good after stretching the lead to 111-104. The Kings made things interesting late by cutting the deficit to 115-113 with 30 seconds left, but Mitchell’s 35th and 36th points from the free-throw line put this one to bed.

When it comes down to Tuesday’s loss, you can look at two glaring statistics: second chance points and offensive rebounds. The Jazz had a field day on the offensive glass, pulling down 15 offensive boards and scoring 33 second-chance points (Sacramento had 14).

The Kings had no answer for Rudy Gobert or Hassan Whiteside as both centers picked up at least 11 rebounds in the win.

Sacramento has now lost six-straight games against Utah dating back to the 2019-20 season and has lost 22 of their last 29 meetings with their Western Conference foe.

Rounding Out The Box Score

The struggles continue for De’Aaron Fox.

Fox’s slow start to the season has raised eyebrows around the league and Tuesday night would not be the 23-year-old’s breakout performance as he finished with 13 points on four-of-15 from the field to go along with nine assists over 35 minutes.

Through seven games, Fox’s touch seems off–as well as his ability to knock down off-balance or even slightly mobile shots from the field. His mid-range game looks good when his feet are set and he has an open look, but the triples are not falling and the transition baskets are not happening as frequently as last season.

“He’s fine. It’s being made a bigger deal than it is. I’m not concerned,” Tyrese Haliburton said of Fox’s tough start to the season. “It’s being blown out of proportion in my eyes. He’s going to be alright.”

There is plenty of time for Fox to get going with 75 games remaining in the season, but you have to hope that last year’s 25-point-per-game scorer can find his form sooner than later.

Harrison Barnes topped the 20-point mark for the fifth time this season as the veteran forward scored 23 points (seven-of-14 from the field) over 35 minutes.

Buddy Hield was feeling it from beyond the arc on Tuesday, finishing with 19 points after knocking down five of his seven three-point attempts. Davion Mitchell displayed his offensive ability once again in the loss, scoring 18 points and four rebounds over 30 minutes.

Tyrese Haliburton added 14 points while Moe Harkless finished with 12 points. Richaun Holmes’ 10 points rounded out a Kings lineup that featured seven players with at least 10 points scored or more.

Injury Updates

Kings center Richaun Holmes injured his knee after coming down awkwardly following a block attempt with 8:07 remaining in the second quarter.

It was a scary scene following the play as Holmes gingerly limped off of the floor and immediately went into the locker room. While the injury looked like it could have been costly at first glance, Holmes returned to the floor moments later and checked back into the game.

The talented center has been one of Sacramento’s most valuable players this season and has been the team’s anchor on the inside, averaging 16.3 points and 10.5 rebounds per game entering play on Tuesday night.

Coming Up

The Kings will play the second game of a back-to-back on Wednesday night when they begin a four-game home-stand at Golden 1 Center against the shorthanded New Orleans Pelicans.

Sacramento defeated the Pelicans in their only meeting this season, a 113-109 win last Friday at the Smoothie King Center. De’Aaron Fox led all Kings scorers with 23 points, while Richaun Holmes added 21 points in the win.

The Pelicans will be without the services of All-Star forward Zion Williamson (foot) as the big man recovers from a fractured foot. New Orleans could also be without forward Brandon Ingram (hip contusion), as the former All-Star was not active for Tuesday night’s matchup against Phoenix.

You can get all of your Kings vs Pelicans coverage right here on Sports 1140 KHTK starting at 3:00pm PST on The Jason Ross Show prior to a 7:00pm PST tip-off from Golden 1 Center.

Upcoming Sacramento Kings schedule

  • November 3rd vs New Orleans Pelicans
  • November 5th vs Charlotte Hornets
  • November 7th vs Indiana Pacers
  • November 8th vs Phoenix Suns
  • November 10th @ San Antonio Spurs

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