SALT LAKE CITY — On the game’s very first possession on Friday, Harrison Barnes got an offensive rebound which ended up leading to a Sacramento Kings basket.
It was also an omen for things to come.
With 2.9 seconds left in the game and the Jazz leading by one, Barnes ran unimpeded to the rim and put back a missed shot to give Sacramento a 102-101 win.
It was an appropriate way to end the game. That was the Kings’ 11th offensive rebound — including a few that they had no business getting. That stat alone showed what was the biggest difference between the two squads on Friday. One team was desperate, the other was going through the motions.
“You could tell they were trying to get a win and do everything they can to do that,” Mike Conley said. “We didn’t come with that type of energy.”
Last Saturday in Salt Lake City, De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield and many of the key rotation players for Sacramento were out of the game by the end of the third quarter. The Kings waved a white flag early as the Jazz did anything they wanted. There wasn’t a white flag coming on Friday.
Sacramento came into the game at Golden1 Center as the only winless squad in the league. For the first time, the Jazz faced a desperate team. And they never could quite match that desperation.
“We were in the game, but we didn’t do the things that we needed to win,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “(There are) things that we can control, and other things that you can’t control. They made some shots, especially early, but the offensive boards, taking care of the ball, those lead to points.”
The Jazz turned the ball over 17 times leading to 28 Sacramento points. The Kings aren’t what you would call a defensive juggernaut. But there were times the Jazz made them look like that. Conley even said the Jazz were “sleepwalking” during portions of the game. That lack of intensity led to their second loss of the season.
"We have control over free throws, we have control over boxing outs, we have control over taking care of the basketball and all three of those things failed us,” Conley said.
But even as bad as the Jazz looked for the large majority of the game, they still had a chance to win the game.
In the final minutes, Utah locked in. Donovan Mitchell dribbled in and hit an 18-foot jumper with 1:43 to go that finished off a 9-0 run to tie the game. During that run, the Jazz’s defense finally stymied Fox, who finished with 25 points as he had free runs to the hoop for much of the night, and Utah got some timely shots.
“I think we were forceful, we attacked, we drove the ball, guys were precise,” Snyder said of the late run. “That’s what it requires. I think it’s something that we are capable of doing. We just need to dig in.”
It looked like the Jazz were going to escape, and Mitchell looked like he was going to be the hero for the second time this season. He hit an acrobatic layup with 11.2 seconds to go to give the Jazz a one-point lead. With the Kings lacking a timeout and having only scored three points in the last five minutes, things were looking up for Utah.
But the same problems that got them at the beginning of the game got them at the end, too.
Bojan Bogdanovic didn’t box out Barnes and he flew in for the winning hoop.
Mitchell, who finished with 24 points on 9-of-19 shooting, had one last chance at the end, but the Jazz’s final possession was well-defended and his desperation shot fell short.
Conley had 19 points, Rudy Gobert finished with 15 points and 16 boards and Bojan Bogdanovic had 17 points and six rebounds for the Jazz.