Kings Justin Jackson: Continues solid preseason off bench

Kings\ Justin Jackson: Continues solid preseason off bench

The Triple Team: Andy Larsens breakdown of the Utah Jazzs destruction of the Sacramento Kings

Because of that, the Kings Twitter account decided to have a little fun. As the team was falling apart on the court, the teams Twitter thought it was best to just ignore the game. Instead, the team decided to tweet about Thursday Night Football.

For the most part, people were in on the joke. There werent all that many salty replies in the comments. Thats saying a lot for Twitter.

Youll notice the score bug has been replaced with a bar that reads censored. The Kings Twitter page wasnt about to let fans know how much the team was struggling. They later replaced the score bug with a picture of a cartoon dog.

Bagley nearly posted his second double-double of the preseason, finishing with 17 points and eight rebounds, and Shumpert played for the first time in almost a year, but little else went right for the Kings. Utah shot 60 percent from the field and made 14 of 30 from 3-point range while holding the Kings to 34.4 percent shooting overall and 3 of 18 beyond the arc.

The lesson here is simple: If you poke fun at yourself before anyone else gets a chance, it hurts a little less. Heres hoping the Kings have enough jokes to get through the regular season.

Ive been on a championship team that got blown out by 30 during the regular season, Shumpert said. … This is one of those games where we let our offense affect our defense and you cant do that in the NBA, but youre going to have games where you cant buy a bucket and youre going to get blown out.

Chris Cwik is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Chris_Cwik

I just want these guys to understand the bigger picture and what we have going on, Shumpert said. It was actually good that the crowd started booing today. Of course they want to see good basketball, but weve just got to make sure that were bringing effort. The effort will keep the boos away.

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Shumpert was acquired last season at the trade deadline in the deal that sent George Hill to the Cleveland Cavaliers, but he never suited up for the Kings after developing plantar fasciitis while recovering from knee surgery. He missed the first four preseason games with a sore calf.

There was some worry this preseason about how the Jazzs starters had performed. After all, against Toronto and Portland, the Jazz found themselves outscored when the starters were in the game.

Im just trying to find different ways to help my team, whether its rebounding, blocking shots, scoring, making a great pass, whatever it may be, Bagley said. Im just trying to make sure I make the right basketball play and try to help the team in any way.

Thursday nights performance against the Kings alleviated those concerns. The Jazz had a strenuous practice before departing for Sacramento this week, one in which head coach Quin Snyder stressed the importance of coming out with energy against the Kings.

It was a tough night for us, he said. We didnt come out and play with force again. Against teams that are in the West, you have to come to play right from the jump. Physically, were at a deficit. Were smaller, shorter and not as strong.

We came out with a great mindset,” Derrick Favors said. “We definitely wanted to come out and make a statement defensively.

The rookie big man and the veteran guard were positioned in front of their stations in the Kings locker room late Thursday night deep inside Golden 1 Center, each offering their perspectives on a 132-93 preseason loss to the Utah Jazz.

They did. The Jazz started the game by immediately going on a 47-12 run on the Kings, one that frankly embarrassed woeful Sacramento. The Kings got nearly zero good shots, missing a ton of shots around the basket thanks to Rudy Goberts presence. When he was in the game, the Jazz had a 66.7 defensive rating. Thats not just an eye-opening stat, its peel-your-eyelids-all-the-way-back stat.

The Kings missed 12 of their first 13 shots and 23 of 27 in the first quarter. The first smattering of boos came when they fell behind 32-7. A louder chorus followed when the Jazz went up 62-29 late in the first half.

On the offensive end, the Jazz took advantage of a very poor Kings defense. The Kings are a young team, sure, but that apparently meant that they necessarily had to bite on every pass fake, miss every second rotation, and frankly just not get back in transition defense. Honestly, it felt like the Kings bigs were completely unaware of the possibility that Gobert might roll to the rim, catch an alley-oop, and dunk it.

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It does legitimately seem like the Jazz are more comfortable with that as a finishing option, though. Weve had an emphasis on high passes,” Snyder said after the game. “Id rather have it be high than low. Its just the confidence to throw those passes, and its a good thing. Tonight, the Jazz had 7 alley-oop dunks and 7 other kinds of dunks. That will do.

Jazz radio play-by-play man David Locke shared an interesting factoid on his broadcast tonight: Snyder wants his Jazz team to aim for taking about 40 percent of their shots as threes, 40 percent of their shots at the rim, and 20 percent from everywhere else on the court.

Despite the lopsided score, Bagley and Harry Giles continued to play hard. Bagley showed off his springy legs, scoring 17 points to go with eight rebounds in 21 minutes of play. Harry Giles struggled to keep Gobert out of the paint, but he aggressively attacked the rim, finishing the evening with 12 points, three rebounds and three steals. This was a tough learning experience for everyone involved, but you have to keep playing, even when everything goes wrong.

For the night, it was about 35 percent from 3, 35 percent within 5 feet of the rim, and 30 percent other kinds of shots. Thats pretty close already!

But if we take the first half of the game (i.e., when the Jazz played something close to their normal rotation), the breakdown was 40 percent from 3, 42.5 percent within 5 feet of the rim, and 17.5 percent (only seven shots in total) from everywhere else. Snyder will definitely take that. Heres the shot chart, for illustrations sake:

The Kings couldnt buy a bucket early, falling behind 39-10 after the first 12 minutes of play. Sacramento shot 14.8 percent (4-of-27) in the first quarter. Two of those made baskets came from rookie Marvin Bagley, who picked up the start at the power forward spot. The other four starters combined for one point on 0-of-11 shooting in the first. 

See all of those mid-range Xs? Blech. Even worse, so many of them were early in the shot clock. Buddy Hield took a 17-footer seven seconds into a possession a minute after the game started. He can do better.

The boo-birds came out early and there was nothing head coach Dave Joerger could do to stem the tide. Utah sat its starters in the second half and even that didnt help Sacramento. This was not the type of performance the team was hoping for as they gear up for the season opener next week against this same Jazz team. 

But at least hes conceptually a good shooter. Two minutes later, Cauley-Stein took a 12-footer just five seconds into a possession. That missed too.

Its just so much harder for teams to win when they play this way. Meanwhile, the Jazz are trying to make it easier on themselves, and its worked so far: they actually have led the NBA so far in preseason scoring, averaging 123.8 points per game and a 113.4 offensive rating.

The NBA has instructed its officials to try to ensure freedom of movement for their players this year. What that means, essentially, is that officials will be keeping a close eye on defenders hands. Previously, players used to grab, hold, and twist as teams ran their offenses, but referees will be calling more of those as fouls.

Snyder was happy to hear about this. The Jazz run their offense with a lot of player movement, trying to open things up with a lot of cuts all around the court. Teams have found success by grabbing the Jazz to slow that movement, meaning that actions that should result with a player open dont.

But despite what you might think, the primary beneficiary for the Jazz probably wont be shooters running around screens like Joe Ingles and Grayson Allen, but the Jazzs rolling big men tandem of Favors and Gobert.

Teams used a couple of different strategies to stop them. Some teams would grab Gobert/Favors as they set the screen, preventing them from exploding to the rim and messing up the pick and roll timing. This was also easy to get away with, because the traffic in that situation meant it was hard to see the hands on the big men. They also often chose to chuck the big man, which basically means having a player bump into the roller in the paint so that he cant get all the way to the rim. Thats also illegal.

So if teams cant stop Gobert and Favors from getting to the rim, the result is going to be a lot of easy dunks and layups. That is indeed what happened Thursday night — see point No. 1 above.

Now, some coaches believe that this will prove similar to some of the leagues other emphases in the past. In other words, it will last about six weeks, and then the referees will go back to calling the game the way they always have. Remember the league emphasis on flopping? Yeah, that didnt last long.

But others believe this one will stick, like the leagues emphasis on stopping handchecking. That changed the game in significant ways, and boosted scoring around the league in the early 2000s.

Even if it is just a 6-week change, though, that figures to help the Jazz during their most difficult stretch of the season.

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