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.