SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Jazz were missing two key pieces when they took on the Sacramento Kings, then as fouls took their toll, the next man up wasn't enough.
Derrick Favors and Marvin Williams have been stalwarts for the Jazz this season, but both missed the home game against the fellow four-win Kings. This put Jeremy Evans and Enes Kanter into the starting lineup.
The Jazz played well through the game, but three players fouling out, Evans, Kanter and Mike Harris, lead to the Jazz losing at home.
Trey Burke had 19 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists a night after coach Tyrone Corbin benched him for poor play. Gordon Hayward had 22 points, despite still not shooting great. Alec Burks had 19 points to keep up his great play, but it all came down to a lack of big men to stop DeMarcus Cousins.
The loss of Favors, who prides himself in his defense, hurt especially.
“(Not having Favors) was huge,” Hayward said. “Cousins did a good job of banging, he's a load down there. He fouled out three of our guys pretty much, so it was a difficult situation without Fav-O. Without Marv as well, I thought people did a good job of stepping up. We should have had the game, we should have won this one, but obviously his effect on this game was missed.”
Kanter was the most notable player who had to step up. The third-year big man had seen his minutes go up and down, especially since he has started coming off the bench. He averages 29.5 per game, but over the previous eight games, he has only averaged 21 per, and that includes a 40-minute game.
Being thrust in against one of the premier offensive players in Cousins is a tough task, but he performed admirably until he fouled out in overtime.
“Enes did a great job on him,” Burke said. “Probably one of the best, if not the best, power forwards in the league. Enes did a great job on him even though he had 28 points, he made him work.”
Kanter frustrated Cousins, which normally means good things for opponents, but against Kanter and the Jazz, it just lead to player fouling out. Losing Favors hurt later with the foul trouble when the Jazz ran out of bodies.
“I think with Derrick it would have been even tougher,” Burke said. “Derrick is a bigger body who bangs down low. We missed him tonight, we missed Marv, another that can space the floor. I feel like with the pieces we had out there we could win the game.”
The pieces included Andris Biedrins who gave the Jazz a solid 14 minutes. Biedrins only played 15 minutes the rest of the season. His struggles at the free throw line make it hard to play him, and the Kings exploited his issues.
Kings' coach Mike Malone sent in Hamady Ndiaye to hack him in the first quarter. In the last two minutes of the first quarter, he fouled Biedrins three times. Biedrins went 1-6 in that time.
His numbers weren't great, but the Jazz were plus-9 when he was on the court, despite his free throw troubles.
Corbin had to get creative with Evans playing center, Richard Jefferson playing power forward and 18 minutes from Harris. Foul troubles and injuries caught up with the Jazz.
Favors should be back Monday to play the Trail Blazers while Williams' status is still a bit cloudy. The Jazz got production from the next man up, but by the end it wasn't enough.