The Utah Jazz tried to get the ball to their biggest player on the court, but the smallest King wasn’t having it.
As Jazz 7-foot-1 center Rudy Gobert prepared to gather a pass from Joe Ingles and go in for a shot to put Utah back in the lead, 5-11 Ty Lawson intercepted it to preserve the lead and eventually preserve a 20-point comeback as the Kings rallied for a 94-93 win at Vivint Smart Home Arena on Wednesday night.
“It was do or die time,” said Lawson of his steal with 45.3 seconds to play. “And we talked about it before, in pick-and-roll we were going to switch and Cuz (DeMarcus Cousins) got the big block and they were trying to get two points. So I figured I’d just be in the paint and try to get a steal. Luckily I was able to tip it way. Everyone was locked in and focused.”
Luckily, the Kings had Lawson and their bench to give them their second straight win and third in the last four games.
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The Kings trailed by 20 in the third quarter and 73-62 entering the fourth.
Reserves Lawson and Anthony Tolliver played the entire fourth quarter. Arron Afflalo played all but one second of the fourth and Garrett Temple played nine minutes.
They helped the Kings outscore Utah 32-20 in the fourth with aggressive defense and an offense led by Lawson, who scored 10 of his 19 points in the fourth.
“It’s a tough a win,” Cousins said. “And without our bench tonight we probably would have got smacked by 30.”
Kings coach Dave Joerger rode the bench, along with 55 points from Cousins, to Tuesday night’s win over Portland. And with the game about to get out of hand Wednesday, he went back to the second unit to save Sacramento.
“I thought Ty Lawson was fantastic,” Joerger said. “He’s been playing well. He gets a lot of guys shots in the second unit, the ball gets to moving, we get cutters, we get to trying to help each other score a little bit. And then we bring DeMarcus in with that group and he gets to be a part of that and it’s contagious with him too.”
The Kings needed Lawson and the rest of the bench. Every reserve that played scored at least five points. Also, Cousins had a bad shooting night, going 5 of 18 in scoring 21 points.
“I thought Ty Lawson’s penetration was the biggest factor for them offensively,” said Utah coach Quin Snyder. “He just controlled the game on that end, both at the rim and finding people.”
The defense played by the bench was also a major key. The Kings found a group that could disrupt Utah’s perimeter players enough to allow the Kings to come back.
And in switch situations, Cousins and Willie Cauley-Stein held up in the fourth quarter.
“I thought Garrett Temple and Arron Afflalo did a nice job on their wings defensively, trying to be physical with them,” Joerger said. “And I thought DeMarcus did a nice job in the pick-and-rolls”
Cousins ended up defending Utah’s leading scorer, Gordon Hayward, with the Kings up 92-90 and was able to force a miss in the lane.
Cousins said that was the result of good communication between he and Afflalo.
Cousins, however, said the win was more about the bench.
“They did an incredible job tonight, they were tough,” Cousins said. “There’s no other way to put it, they won this game tonight, seriously.”
Hayward led Utah (18-12) with 28 points. Gobert had 17 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks.
Temple (11 points) was the only other King (12-17) to score in double figures.