Kings drop season opener to the Jazz 123-117
Here are three takeaways from the Kings’ 123-117 loss to the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night at Golden 1 Center.
Kings come out on fire
The Kings were plagued by slow starts in a number of their preseason games, but not in the season opener against Utah.
Public address announcer Scott Moak whipped the crowd into a frenzy with his pregame introductions and the Kings followed suit, outscoring the Jazz 9-0. The Kings made seven of their first nine field-goal attempts and did a good job of contesting shots on the defensive end.
Sacramento took a 25-9 lead on a 3-pointer by Iman Shumpert before Utah mounted a 16-2 run to cut the deficit to two on a layup by Dante Exum. The Kings led 34-30 at the end of the first quarter. When the two teams met in a preseason game last week at Golden 1 Center, the Jazz outscored the Kings 39-10 in the first period.
Strong showing for Cauley-Stein
The Kings’ Willie Cauley-Stein made headlines during training camp when he said he is “ready to get paid.” The 7-foot center might get his money if he continues to play the way he did against Utah.
Cauley-Stein, who can become a restricted free agent in the summer, turned in an impressive performance. He posted a team-high 23 points, seven rebounds, four assists and two blocked shots for Sacramento. He made 10 of 15 field-goal attempts.
Kings can’t climb ‘Stifle Tower’
The Kings once again had no answer for Jazz center Rudy Gobert, a 7-foot-1 Frenchman known as “The Stifle Tower.”
Gobert, the 2017-18 NBA Defensive Player of the Year, was a force at both ends of the floor, using his length, strength and athleticism to block shots, grab rebounds and throw down alley-oop dunks.
Gobert finished with 19 points, 15 rebounds and three blocked shots. In last week’s preseason game against the Kings, he had 18 points and seven rebounds before sitting out the second half.