One day, perhaps, DeMarcus Cousins will finish a game against Utah and then, only then, will the Jazz know how they stack up with the full-strength Sacramento Kings.
But on Monday night, the Jazz had plenty of trouble with the low-fat version.
The Jazz had dust off their intensity and hot shooting in overtime to top the Kings 98-91, in front of 17,742 at EnergySolutions Arena.
Cousins, the gifted but bombastic center, was ejected at halftime after he was slow to leave the court and, he later said, told the referee not to “act like an effing female.” It was the second straight game this season he has been ejected against the Jazz, after being tossed in the third quarter of the Jazz’s loss in Sacramento on Nov. 24.
If any team can relate about playing without key players, it’s the Jazz. They’re in a constant, swirling state of evolution. Their players are growing, both out of natural progression and survivalism. Alec Burks is being broken in as a point guard, and Monday was his best performance in the role alongside Randy Foye, who scored a team-high 20 points (six in overtime).
“At first I thought playing him at the one take away what he do,” Jazz center Al Jefferson said, “which is score. But I think the more and more that he plays, he get more and more comfortable.”
Burks played a season-high 31 minutes, including the final 22:33 of the game, and scored 14 points. He was also responsible for four of the Jazz’s inexpert 22 turnovers.
“It has put him at a little bit of a disadvantage playing point guard more than anything,” coach Tyrone Corbin said. “But with he and Randy on the floor together, they are able to split the duties a little bit, and at time initiate, at times be the secondary guy.”
Jefferson recorded his 23rd double-double of the season, finishing with 15 points and 12 rebounds.
DeMarre Carroll and Derrick Favors, meanwhile, continued their strong play off the bench, finishing with 10 and 13 points respectively, while Favors added nine rebounds.
“We’re working some things out in the rotation and some personnel,” Corbin said. “But they all stayed together and as a result we were able to tough out a win here.”
On the flip side: The Jazz needed everyone to deplete a depleted version of one of the NBA’s most sympathetic teams.Next Page »