Kings-Jazz Preview

While the Utah Jazz have been one of the best come-from-behind

teams in the NBA, they would like to play a full 48 minutes at some

point.

The Jazz, who are shooting just 42.1 percent from the field in

the first quarter, will look to get off to a hot start at home

against the Sacramento Kings on Monday night.

It’s been a tale of two halves for Utah, which is scoring an

NBA-worst 44.1 points per game in the first half, but owns the

highest field-goal percentage in the second-half at 48.8

percent.

The Jazz (9-5) have recorded six fourth-quarter comebacks thus

far, and found themselves down by nine heading into the final 12

minutes against Portland on Saturday night.

C.J. Miles played the role of hero, making five 3-pointers and

scoring 17 of Utah’s 38 fourth-quarter points to defeat the Blazers

103-94.

“I think sometimes the home team tightens up a little bit,” said

Utah assistant Phil Johnson, who coached the team while Jerry Sloan

attended a family member’s funeral. “I really believe that when a

team is coming back on you like that it is hard to withstand.”

Deron Williams, who leads the team with 21.6 points per game,

scored a season-low 12 but dished out 11 assists. He could be in

line for another double-double against the Kings, as he is

averaging 20.0 points and 10.5 assists in his last nine games

against them.

The Jazz went a perfect 21 for 21 from the free-throw line

against the Blazers, marking the first time in franchise history in

which they shot 100.0 percent with more than 17 attempts in a

game.

Sacramento lost to New Orleans 75-71 on Sunday, its seventh loss

in eight games. The Kings (4-8) are averaging 90.8 points over that

span after scoring 108.8 per game in their first four this

season.

Sacramento entered the fourth quarter down by three, but shot a

season-worst 30.0 percent from the field in the final period and

couldn’t overtake the Hornets.

“We couldn’t get shots when we needed to get them,” Kings coach

Paul Westphal said. “It’s a shame when you play as hard as

effectively as we played tonight to not have a win to show for

it.”

Tyreke Evans, who leads the team with 18.9 points per game, was

held to nine on Sunday. He should bounce back against the Jazz,

though, as he averaged 27.0 against them as a rookie last

season.

While Westphal was disappointed after another close loss, he

remains optimistic about his team’s recent effort.

“Certainly, its a major positive that we’ve played very good,

high-caliber NBA defense two nights in a row,” he said. “If we will

have that be our calling card, we’re going to win a lot of these

games.”

In addition to defense, the Kings are going to need to improve

from three-point range if they hope to turn things around. They are

shooting an NBA-worst 29.7 percent from long-distance.

Sloan is expected to be back on the Jazz sidelines versus the

Kings after missing the previous two games.