Jazz get off to fast start, hold off Kings 98-91

SACRAMENTO, CA - MARCH 3: Jae Crowder #99 of the Utah Jazz shoots the ball against the Sacramento Kings on March 3, 2018 at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California. (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) Utah coach Quin Snyder couldn’t stop praising his team’s defense after the Jazz limited Sacramento to four second-chance points.

It was their inconsistency that bothered Snyder, a small asterisk on an otherwise strong night.

Donovan Mitchell scored eight of his 27 points in the fourth quarter and the Jazz beat the Kings 98-91 on Saturday.

”We got a couple leads and we gave it back to them, frankly,” Snyder said. ”We have to be able to maintain a certain level throughout the course of the game and stay at that level and be more consistent during the whole 48 minutes.”

Rudy Gobert had another double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds for the Jazz. Ricky Rubio added 10 points, eight rebounds and six assists, and Derrick Favors scored 15 to lead Utah to its fifth consecutive win in Sacramento.

The Jazz, who beat Minnesota on Friday, have back-to-back victories for the first time since their 11-game winning streak was snapped by Portland on Feb. 23.

They did it with a stifling interior defense that held the Kings to one basket on 11 offensive rebounds.

”That’s why we won it,” Gobert said. ”We know they are a very young and athletic team and their guys are very aggressive to the rim, so we had to do a great job protecting the paint. We did a great job of doing that tonight.”

Sacramento trailed by 18 in the third quarter but pulled to 95-89 following De’Aaron Fox’s three-point play with 49.9 seconds left.

Rubio made one free throw and Mitchell sank two to help Utah hold on.

Skal Labissiere had 12 points and 12 rebounds for Sacramento. Fox scored 17 points and Bogdan Bogdanovic added 15.

The Kings have lost four of five since the All-Star break.

”We dribbled a little too much,” Sacramento coach Dave Joerger said. ”They are tough to score on once their defense gets set up. That’s the battle when you play them.”

The Jazz closed the first quarter on a 13-4 run capped by Jae Crowder’s 3-pointer with 2.2 seconds left, then pulled away in the second.

Gobert dribbled through a pair of Sacramento defenders for a dunk, and Joe Ingles followed with a 3-pointer to put Utah up 45-27.

Fox scored eight points in the second quarter to help the Kings pull to 50-43 but picked up his third foul with 11.3 seconds left in the half.

Sacramento cut the gap to 75-66 going into the fourth following Frank Mason’s 3-pointer.

TIP-INS

Jazz: Utah hasn’t lost in Sacramento since Dec. 8, 2015. … Mitchell has scored 23 or more in seven of his last nine games. .. Utah limited Sacramento to 29.2 percent shooting (7 of 24) in the first quarter. . Crowder made two 3s in the opening 12 minutes and added his third 40 seconds into the second quarter. . The Jazz improved to 21-5 when holding opponents under 100 points.

Kings: Zach Randolph returned to the lineup after being left on the bench for two games. … Kosta Koufos had eight points and seven rebounds in his first start since Jan. 28. Koufos started because Willie Cauley-Stein was held out with a lower back strain.

RUBIO’S IMPACT

Rubio shot 4 of 16 but put together his best overall game since sitting out three games in mid-February because of a sore left hip. ”The boxscore doesn’t tell everything,” Gobert said. ”He was doing great, making the right play at the right time and finding his teammates.”

QUOTABLE

”That guy is a stud. Holy cow. He plays the 2, plays the 1, plays in pick-and-roll, can catch and shoot, gets to the foul line. He’s a heck of a player.” – Joerger on Mitchell

UP NEXT

Jazz: Host the Orlando Magic on Monday.

Kings: Host the New York Knicks on Sunday.

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