Game Day: Sacramento Kings at Utah Jazz (1/28/12)
By Noey Kupchan
Posted Jan 28 2012 12:47AM
While their offensive production leaves much to be desired, the Sacramento Kings' inability to slow opponents down seems to be of greater concern.
If their recent history when visiting Utah is any indication, the Kings could be in for another long night defending their end of the court.
Sacramento looks to avoid a fourth consecutive loss overall and an eighth defeat in nine road meetings with the Jazz on Saturday night.
Sitting in the Pacific Division basement, the Kings (6-13) are averaging a pedestrian 90.5 points per game. Their offensive woes, however, pale in comparison to their defensive struggles. Sacramento is allowing an NBA-worst average of 102.6 points.
The Kings' lack of defensive prowess was on display Wednesday in a 122-93 rout at home against Denver. The Nuggets shot 54.9 percent and scored 92 points in the paints - the most in any game since the NBA began keeping track of that statistic.
"We hadn't gotten beat like that at home this year," said rookie Jimmer Fredette, who made a scored 15 of his 19 points on a career-best five 3-pointers. " ... We have to have a short memory and get on to the next game, move forward."
After averaging just 6.9 points over his first 16 games, Fredette has averaged 17.3 in his last three. The 10th overall pick in June's draft could be primed for another inspired performance as he returns to Utah for the first time since graduating from BYU with a school-record 2,599 career points.
"It'll be fun to play in front of the hometown fans again that I played in front of for my college career," he told the Kings' official website. "I'm looking forward to it. It should be a fun atmosphere ... The most important thing is that we can go out and hopefully steal one on the road."
While Fredette went 4-0 as a starter at EnergySolutions Arena with the Cougars, helping Sacramento to a road win over the Jazz (10-7) could prove difficult. The Kings have been outscored by an average of 12.1 points while losing seven of their last eight trips to Utah.
Utah is trying to avoid a fourth loss in five games overall. Two nights after falling 111-106 to Toronto in double overtime, the Jazz lost 116-101 at Dallas on Friday. They couldn't slow down the Mavericks, who shot 54.9 percent from the field - the highest mark by any Utah opponent this season.
After sitting out versus the Raptors with an inflamed right ankle, Al Jefferson had 19 points Friday. Paul Millsap, averaging 22.8 points, 9.1 rebounds and shooting 57.4 percent over his last nine games, had 20 points and seven boards.
Millsap will compete for rebounds with Sacramento's DeMarcus Cousins. Cousins had 17 points and 15 rebounds Wednesday for his fifth double-double in as many games. He averaged 19.5 points and 12.5 boards in four meetings with Utah as a rookie in 2010-11.
Kings forward Chuck Hayes has missed the last 11 games with a dislocated left shoulder but could return Saturday. Marcus Thornton, averaging a team-high 16.4 points, remains sidelined with a deep thigh bruise.
Sacramento guard Tyreke Evans is surely looking forward to facing Utah. He is averaging 22.8 points lifetime versus the Jazz - his highest mark against any Western Conference opponent.
The Kings have been outscored by an average of 17.7 points while going 2-9 on the road.
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