Sacramento Kings 117, Utah Jazz Jazz 115: Three Hard Takeaways

Sacramento Kings 117, Utah Jazz Jazz 115: Three Hard Takeaways

On Tuesday night, De’Aaron Fox led all scorers with 37 points, while Domantas Sabonis contributed 21 as the Sacramento Kings defeated the Utah Jazz, 117-115. Lauri Markkanen scored 28 points to lead the Jazz in a losing cause.

The Jazz missed another in the final seconds. This time it was Fox with a shot at the rim with 0.4 seconds left to seal the deal. Markkanen countered with a three-pointer at the buzzer, but upon further review, it was a split second too late and the floor call was overturned.

What did we learn from Utah’s fifth straight loss? Let’s break it down.

Will Hardy’s clouded decision-making

Hardy has a reputation for a high basketball IQ, but lately, he’s been lacking in lineups in terms of the players he needs to be on the court. With 17 seconds left, Markkanen was at the line with a chance to tie the game.

It was easy to see that the Jazz would still need a stop on what was potentially the final possession of the game to force overtime. Hardy subbed in Jarred Vanderbilt for coverage on Markkanen’s free throws, but opted to bench Utah’s top rebounder and defender — Walker Kessler — for the final possession.

Predictably, Kings head coach Mike Brown didn’t call a timeout, and Fox proceeded to beat Markkanen off the dribble and get an uncontested look at the rim. Would Kessler’s attitude on the field have made a difference?

We’ll never know, but the point is that these coaching snafus matter in one-possession games and should be examined when a team has lost five straight by a total of 15 points.

Rudy Gay’s days in the rotation may be numbered

The strangest decision Hardy continues to make is keeping Gay in the rotation. Against the Kings, Gay went 0-for-5 from the field giving nothing on the defensive end.

Again, in games that are decided by one possession, keeping Gay in the rotation is costing the Jazz wins. It’s an easy fix, but for some reason, the Jazz are inclined to give Gay minutes for rookies and younger players who need court time to develop.

Through Utah’s five games, Gay has logged 70 minutes of court time, scoring 18 points on 33% from the field and 16% from long range.

Is the jazz tank from here?

Despite losing five straight, the Jazz are still within striking distance of a playoff spot. That said, as the trade deadline approaches, the question becomes: does Utah trade some of its vets and go with the rookies the rest of the way?

It would only take one trade to put the Jazz in position to pick in the top eight in a loaded 2023 draft. Expect the rumor mill to heat up as we get closer to the deadline.

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