SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Jazz will look to snap a two-game losing streak when they travel to face the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday.
The Jazz were swept in their home-and-home series with the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday and Monday, trimming their lead atop the Western Conference to just one game.
The Kings meanwhile will look to win consecutive games for the first time in nearly a month when they host the Jazz at home.
Jazz Need To Reverse Course Vs. Kings
The Jazz head to Sacramento licking their wounds from a pair of tough losses at the hands of the Timberwolves over the weekend.
In the two eerily similar games, the Jazz built big first quarter leads, before seeing their offensive prowess abandon them in the second and third quarters, and narrowly losing games in the final minutes.
The Jazz’s lastest loss was one of their most difficult of the season as the team erased a 13 point second-half deficit to take a 104-103 lead with five seconds remaining in the game. However, a pair of Rudy Gobert mistakes on the final possessions cost the Jazz an opportunity to win the game.
Most glaringly, Gobert misread the Timberwolves’ final offensive possession, switching out to Karl-Anthony Towns on the perimeter while allowing D’Angelo Russell a wide-open layup for the go-ahead basket.
“It was totally on me,” Gobert said. “[Mike] was already out there, we kind of switched and I should have recognized that he did what he was supposed to do and I didn’t. It was 100 percent on me.”
On the final play, Gobert attempted to set a screen for Mike Conley to spring him for an open look but ultimately led the guard into a crowd of Timberwolves defenders causing a turnover.
Teamed with a Phoenix Suns victory over the New York Knicks, the Jazz lead over the Suns atop the Western Conference sits at just one game with the two teams facing off on Friday in Phoenix.
With a win Wednesday over Sacramento, the Jazz could guarantee themselves that they will leave Phoenix still owning the best record in the NBA regardless of Friday’s outcome.
The Jazz will be shorthanded when they face the Kings, however. Guard Donovan Mitchell will miss his sixth straight game with a sprained right ankle which he suffered on April 16 against the Indiana Pacers. The Jazz are 2-3 since the injury, with two of the losses to Minnesota coming by a combined six points and an overtime loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Short-Handed Kings Look To Build Winning Streak
After a brutal start to April, the Kings will look to build their first two-game win streak in nearly a month.
The Kings lost nine straight games between March 31 and April 15, but have since won three out of five including a 113-106 victory Monday night over the Dallas Mavericks.
Sacramento is playing without leading scorer De’Aaron Fox it is in the NBA’s COVID-19 contact and tracing protocols where he’s expected to remain through at least the end of the week.
The Kings didn’t need their fourth-year speedster to beat the Mavericks, however. Center Richaun Holmes scored 24 points and grabbed six rebounds while Harrison Barnes added 19 points in the win.
The Jazz won the last matchup in the series 128-112 despite a 25 point, 10 rebound double-double from Holmes on April 10.
Wednesday’s key matchup will pit Kings guard Buddy Hield against Jazz guard Joe Ingles. Over his last three games, Hield has been on a tear averaging 23.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 4.3 assists while shooting 61 percent from the floor and 65 percent from three.
The guard scored 19 points and handed out seven assists in the two teams’ first meeting, but was held to just 7-17 shooting.
Ingles on the other hand is coming off his worst two-game stretch of the season. The sharpshooting guard couldn’t find the bottom of the net against Minnesota, combining to shoot 4-23 over the losing streak and just 21 percent from the three-point line while averaging 6.5 points per game.
Ingles poor shooting has dropped him from the top three-point shooting average in the NBA entering the weekend to third behind Milwaukee Bucks forward Bobby Portis and Brooklyn Nets guard Joe Harris.
The Jazz and Kings will tip-off at 8 pm MT and the game will be broadcast on AT&T SportsNet.