A difficult stretch of the young season continued for Utah Jazz center Enes Kanter on Saturday night at EnergySolutions Arena.
Kanter finished with 12 points and seven rebounds in 37 minutes, but he missed two critical jump shots and fouled out in overtime as Sacramento rallied for a 112-102 victory.
Kanter has struggled since turning his ankle in the fourth quarter of a 95-73 loss at Oklahoma City on Nov. 24.
Kanter missed one game. In the first five games since returning, he averaged 8.6 points and 5.5 rebounds while shooting 18 for 42 from the field. He played over 20 minutes and reached double figures only once.
By comparison, Kanter reached double figures in 13 of the first 15 games this season. He played less than 25 minutes just once.
Before squandering a seven-point lead in the final minutes of regulation and losing to the Kings, Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin shrugged when asked about Kanter’s play since his ankle injury.
"He’s young, he’s playing more minutes [and] he’s playing a different role," Corbin said. "His minutes are more important than in the past [so] we are counting on him to be consistent. …
"In the past, he could have a good game and a few games that were not so good. But now, it’s [more] noticeable when he’s not playing a consistent game."
After a pause, Corbin added, "He has to understand, in his role; we’re counting on him even more than we have in the past."
Kanter’s only big performance since the injury came during Wednesday night’s 95-86 loss to Eastern Conference-leading Indiana.
Going against the Pacers’ Roy Hibbert and Mark West, he finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds in a season-high 40 minutes.
Kanter looked like he might match the effort against Indiana with a quick start against Sacramento.
After Kings center DeMarcus Cousins went to the bench with two fouls in the opening 86 seconds, Kanter made his first three shots. His jumper with 8:52 left in the first quarter gave the Jazz a 10-5 lead.
It turned out to be Kanter’s final basket of the first half, however. He took only one more shot in his final 13 minutes.
Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.