Sacramento Kings vs. Utah Jazz
9:00 PM ET, January 28, 2012
Energy Solutions Arena, Salt Lake City, UT
Coverage: NBA TV
Looking to get back on track…that is the main goal for both of these two Western Conference teams. As the Sacramento Kings prepare to travel to Utah to take on the Jazz, they also look to end a poor record that has eaten away at their self esteem since the season began. The Jazz are trying to get over an overtime loss to Toronto. They go into this game knowing they have the upper hand against the Kings, given the fact that in the last two years the Jazz have won 4 of their 7 meetings.
The Sacramento Kings are having some inner issues that they are trying to work out, such as the attitude problems with their young center, DeMarcus Cousins, and the firing of their head coach just a few weeks ago. Currently 6 and 13, they rank 24th overall in offense. They come in dead last on defense, which has always been a problem for the Kings. The Team is lead by Marcus Thornton, who is averaging 16.4 points a game along with 1.5 steals. Helping Thornton on the floor is Cousins, who is averaging 11 rebounds and 1.4 blocks a game.
The Utah Jazz are lead by all-star Al Jefferson, who is averaging 18.3 points, 9.4 rebounds and 1.5 blocked shots a game. They are 10 and 6 and have lost only 3 games out of their last 12. Even though no one is talking about them, I see them coming from behind and making a run at the playoffs. Ranking 9th overall in offense and 15th in defense, they still have areas to improve on. But 5th in the NBA in rebounding does say a lot. They tend to crash every board and they hustle as much as they can.
This game will be interesting to see just how much the Kings bench will help during the game. They will need to have a great game and stay away from fouling, because they are going to get charged on every other play by these Jazz players. Defense and turnovers will be something to watch for, as well as points on fast break options. The Kings will need to get up and down the court and establish themselves. If they are not successful at doing that, they will fall short yet again. My pick is the Jazz at home, wanting to get back after that horrible loss a few days ago.