You couldn’t have scripted a better ending. Jimmer Fredette, in front of Utah fans that were cheering his every move, had the ball with a chance to win the game. After the Kings clawed back from a double-digit second half deficit, Jimmer took an inbounds pass with an open look from downtown, eight seconds on the clock. But his shot, slightly hurried, sailed wide left, drawing no iron. The chance for a stunning victory went by the wayside as the Jazz held on for a 96-93 win.
TYREKE GOES WILD – One of the most impressive efforts in the young career of Tyreke Evans (40 MIN, 31 PTS, 12-20 FG, 9 AST, 6 REB, 4 TO, 2 STL, 1 BLK). Tyreke played the part of superstar for the Kings, proving to be an unstoppable force on his quick takes to the rack. The Jazz used a host of different defenders against Evans to no avail. You never got to find out if Tyreke’s jumper was on because he didn’t have to settle for that. Additionally, Tyreke, especially early on, was finding teammates at the basket with terrific passes. That’s the kind of point guard Evans can be. He’ll never be a pure pass-first guy, but when he can score like that, it doesn’t matter.
REBOUNDING DEFICIENCIES – For the most part, rebounding has been one of the strong suits for the Kings this season. But against Utah, Sacramento gave up way too many second chance points, and in a close game, that’s the difference. Utah snagged 15 offensive boards, and the Kings squandered many chances to further close the gap late by failing to corral missed shots. Paul Millsap shot just 2-for-10, but he posted 14 rebounds (five offensive) to assert himself in Utah’s win.
ROOKIE GUARDS EXCEL – Jimmer (30 MIN, 14 PTS, 5-13 FG, 3-5 3FG, 1 AST, 3 TO, 2 STL), last shot aside, played a solid game as the starter next to Evans. He was cheered everytime he touched the ball, but rather than excitedly fire up shots, he let the game come to him. Jimmer excelled with the catch-and-shoot, something we haven’t really seen from him this season. Had he gotten a few calls on his dribble drives — lots of contact from Devin Harris — his line would have looked a lot better. Isaiah Thomas (18 MIN, 13 PTS, 5-6 FG, 3-3 3FG) found his shot in Utah and it came at a critical time for the Kings. Thomas led the comeback charge, knocking down back-to-back long balls and showing extreme confidence in his offensive game. The clutch shooting kept him on the floor to close the game. Can only hope it carries on to upcoming games.
OTHER OBSERVATIONS – It appeared Chuck Hayes (8 REB, 2 STL) re-injured his shoulder in the waning seconds of the game. The big man played solid defense in 20 minutes … John Salmons (7 PTS, 7 REB) posted a team-worst -11 ‘+/-‘ rating. He sleepwalked through the first half, hit a few jumpers in the third before missing a gimme three-pointer in the final minutes … Kings shot 46.2 percent from the field and 92.9 percent from the line; all in all, a solid shooting performance for the team.