SACRAMENTO, CA - OCTOBER 22: Rudy Gobert #27 of the Utah Jazz looks on during the game against the Sacramento Kings on October 22, 2021 at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

Late Fourth Quarter Surge Leads Utah To Victory Over Sacramento

A late 15-6 run propeled by Rudy Gobert's play on both ends of the court gave the Jazz a 110-101 win over the Kings on Friday night

When Utah needed him most, Rudy Gobert showed up in a big way.

After struggling with the officiating and the physical nature of Sacramento’s big men, Gobert took matters into his own hands and showed why he’s not just the reigning defensive player of the year but an all-NBA type of talent.

Gobert finished strong with his second consecutive double-double as Utah came from behind to win 110-101 over the Kings on Friday night in Sacramento.

“First off, Rudy took it upon himself, you know to be stronger because he didn’t finish strong in the beginning,” Donovan Mitchell said of his teammate. “In those last four minutes when they (Sacramento) started going small, being able to punish teams for doing that, I think we did a really good job of that.”

Gobert finished with 17 points and 20 rebounds, his second consecutive game with 20+ rebounds to begin the season. Despite the physicality, he stayed composed late as he put up 11 points, seven rebounds, and two blocks in the final quarter.

Mitchell finished with a game-high 27 points, going 8-of-14 from beyond the arc while adding five rebounds and four assists. Mike Conley continued his strong start to the season with 17 points.

“We got really good effort from a lot of the guys,” head coach Quin Snyder said postgame. “Rudy and Donovan got better as the game went on. … They were at their best in the fourth quarter.”

Utah’s starters struggled to find a rhythm for most of the game until the final 12 minutes. That’s why Snyder singled out Hassan Whiteside, Eric Paschall, and Trent Forrest postgame as providing critical minutes off the bench to help smooth things out.

“Can’t say enough about Hassan, Trent, and Eric. … Those three guys, the minutes that they gave us were really big,” Snyder said. 

Whiteside was particularly effective when going up against his former team. 

In 16 minutes of action, he finished with eight points, nine rebounds, and a +18 rating, tying with Mitchell for the highest mark on the team.

“I think these guys are very experienced, and it’s a smart and savvy team. … They made the game easier for me,” Whiteside said. “I’m a physical guy, so I’m with it.”

The Jazz talked during the preseason about being prepared for these sorts of games. They understand that they’ve gone from the hunter to the hunted after finishing with the best record in the league last year—and that’s what happened Friday night.

Sacramento, playing in front of a capacity crowd for the first time since March 11, 2020, came out on fire and tried to attack Utah at the rim and in the midrange. The Kings consistently put Gobert in the pick-and-roll, forcing him to choose who to guard, and seemed very content pulling up for easy jumpers.

But with any great team, Utah relied on its experience and maturity to slowly begin stifling Sacramento’s attack. Gobert became much more aggressive on defense, which had a domino effect as communication took over late.

“For us to correct ourselves throughout the game, mid-game on the floor and not during a timeout, not during halftime, but like in the moment. … That’s one thing that really stood out to me,” Mitchell said. “Really, it’s our communication. … We were able to speak to each other, we were able to listen to each other, and we were able to go out there and fix it.”

Utah found itself trailing by six at the half, and despite cutting the deficit to one score multiple times in the third quarter, the Jazz couldn’t break even. But Jordan Clarkson nailed a three-pointer at the buzzer that gave the Jazz an 81-80 lead heading into the fourth.

The Jazz appeared to be pulling away midway through the quarter after taking a six-point lead, but Sacramento fought back to tie the game at 95 with five minutes to play. 

But that’s when Utah’s experience and communication took over, ending the game on a 15-6 run.

“I think it’s up to us, up to the players to adjust,” Snyder said. “I thought we did that. … I thought we got tougher and stronger as the game went on. I thought we did a really good job of attacking pressure, but the story of the game is how we defended late.”

Clarkson finished with 15 points and five rebounds, while Bojan Bogdanovic added 13 points and five rebounds. Royce O’Neale, after going scoreless in the opener, chipped in eight points, four steals, and four rebounds.

Utah will now have three days off before returning home for a Mountain West battle against the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday, October 26. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. MST.

Tickets can be purchased HERE.

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