Sacramento, Calif. • In the locker room before the game, players were watching the play develop on a TV — time winding down, up three, a bounce pass to an open shooter — talking through the mistakes they made allowing Kings rookie Ben McLemore to hit the shot that forced overtime last week in Utah, a game the Jazz let slip away down the stretch.
The loss was still running through Gordon Hayward’s head as he walked onto the court for the rematch Wednesday night.
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"It was in our mind from tipoff," Hayward said of Saturday’s defeat. "We wanted some revenge. We owed these guys. We should have won the other game. We had the game, we let it slip. It was in our minds from the beginning."
This time, the Utah Jazz made sure another game wouldn’t get away from them, running away with a 122-101 win over the Sacramento Kings at Sleep Train Arena. The victory ended a four-game slide for the last place Jazz, as they began a stretch that sees them play seven of their next eight games on the road.
"This group of guys," Jazz coach Ty Corbin said after the win, "I can’t say enough about how much I appreciate them staying in there. Keep working, trying to get better. Through all of our struggles they just keep working. We’ll get better because of that."
The Kings were missing major pieces. Rudy Gay, the small forward acquired from Toronto just a few days earlier, watched from behind the bench, unable to play because former Kings guard Greivis Vasquez had yet to pass his physical in Canada.
"It’s difficult to be short-handed in this league," Corbin said. "We’ve been that way most of this year."
Without Gay, Sacramento had rolled over Dallas two nights earlier thanks to monster games from DeMarcus Cousins and Derrick Williams. But on Wednesday, the Kings wilted as the Jazz flourished.
Derrick Favors, back in the starting lineup after missing two games with a sore back, had 17 points and seven rebounds. Marvin Williams, who missed all four of the Jazz’s most recent losses, chipped in eight points, five assists and four rebounds in his return.
With the game tied at 7, the Jazz went on a 9-0 run. The Kings closed the gap to three late in the period when point guard Isaiah Thomas lobbed a pass to Derrick Williams on the fast break for a dunk that awoke the crowd.
Utah’s hot shooting continued in the second when 3-pointers by Alec Burks and Brandon Rush, his first triple of the season, were part of an 11-4 Jazz run.
Burks scored 17 points off the bench, his eighth game in a row in double digits.
After picking up two first-quarter fouls, Cousins watched the entire second quarter from the bench. He finished the half with just four points, but came out fast after half-time scoring 10 points in the third quarter. Cousins finished with 21 points and Thomas added 20 of his own.
But Jefferson was Utah’s counter. The 33-year-old hardly, dropping 13 of his team-high 20 points in the third quarter as the Jazz, who have been on the wrong end of a 20-point lead plenty this season, finally experienced how the other half live. Utah pushed its lead to as much as 28 points in the period.
For the game, the Jazz shot nearly 54 percent from the field. The team’s 122 points and 35 assists were both season highs for the five-win Jazz.
It’s a night Hayward wants his team to remember.
"We’ve got to build on nights like this," he said. "It’s good to see that if you do the right thing that it pays off."
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