UTAH JAZZ

Kings Simple Math Spoils Jazz Season Opener

Oct 25, 2023, 10:48 PM | Updated: Oct 26, 2023, 12:05 am

Davion Mitchell #15 of the Sacramento Kings dribbles the ball past Jordan Clarkson #00 of the Utah ...

Davion Mitchell #15 of the Sacramento Kings dribbles the ball past Jordan Clarkson #00 of the Utah Jazz (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

(Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Jazz looked flatfooted in the regular season opener falling to the Sacramento Kings 130-114.

Jordan Clarkson led the Jazz with 24 points on 8-16 shooting, while Lauri Markkanen added 19 points and 10 rebounds.

Harrison Barnes paced the red-hot Kings with 33 points on 11-16 shooting, including 5-7 from three.

Jazz Had No Answer For Kings Threes

The Kings crushed the Jazz Wednesday night using simple analytics — they attempted 51 threes to the Jazz 28, making 19 threes to the Jazz nine.

Sacramento got into their offense early and often throughout the night, creating open looks for shooters.

“We really struggled in transition to get matched up and to contain the ball,” Jazz coach Will Hardy said. “Our communication was not very sharp in that area of the game.”

Barnes, Keegan Murray, and Chris Duarte were the main culprits in the Jazz’s demise, but the damage could have been much worse had Kevin Huerter, De’Aaron Fox, and Malik Monk not combined to shoot just 4-21.

Jazz starters made 7-18 threes for a healthy 38 percent, but the second unit shot just 2-10.

“When the other team shoots 23 more threes than you do, that’s one of those where the math is against you,” Hardy added.

The Kings finished the night with an offensive rating of 120.8 compared to the Jazz’s 108.7, largely thanks to their three-point shooting.

Keyonte George Plays Well In Debut

Though the Jazz struggled as a whole, rookie Keyonte George made the most of his NBA debut.

The first-year guard scored eight points grabbed two rebounds, and dished out two assists while connecting on 3-5 from the floor and 1-3 from three.

“I thought that he was reading the game well,” Hardy said. “He made some really good decisions.”

George had struggled in the preseason with predetermined offensive reads and inefficient shooting near the rim.

The 19-year-old had shot just 32 percent from the floor and 28 percent from three in five exhibition games, thanks in part to an overreliance on his jump shot.

“Preseason was really good for me just because I got reps, it’s all about reps,” George said. “In practice I’m going extremely hard, trying to go extremely hard, trying to generate shots that I’m going to get in the game.”

Against the Kings, George kept his head up looking for his teammates first, was opportune in his drives to the rim, and didn’t get caught taking overly difficult shots.

“He made some great passes to shots that didn’t go in,” Hard added, “but I thought that in that flow of the game, he had a good thing going.”

George played 19 minutes in his first game, eighth most of the Jazz 10-man rotation, and fourth-most in the five-man guard line.

“Knowing that I belong — I think that makes it easier for me to go out there and play free,” George said of his performance.

Among all rookies Wednesday night, George played the ninth most minutes in his NBA debut trailing only Victor Wembanyama, Brandon Miller, Scoot Henderson, Chet Holmgren, Bilal Coulibaly, Dereck Lively, Amen Thompson, and Ausar Thompson.

Jazz Next Broadcast

The Jazz will face the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday at 7:30 pm MST in Salt Lake City. The game will be televised on KJZZ, streamed on Jazz+, and can be heard on 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone.

Download the new & improved KSL Sports app from Utah’s sports leader. You can stream live radio, video and stay up to date on all of your favorite teams.

Ben Anderson is the Utah Jazz insider for KSL Sports and the co-host of Jake and Ben from 10-12p with Jake Scott on 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone. Find Ben on Twitter at @BensHoops or on Instagram @BensHoops.

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Kings Simple Math Spoils Jazz Season Opener