The Utah Jazz are coming off a rare loss in the new year, but will try to get back in the groove when they pay a visit to the Sacramento Kings Saturday night at Sleep Train Arena.
The Jazz dropped a 93-89 decision to former employee Carlos Boozer and the Chicago Bulls Friday in the finale of a three-game homestand. Boozer scored 11 straight points during the fourth quarter to send his former team packing with a loss for just the sixth time since the calendar turned (13-6).
Utah big man Al Jefferson had a game-high and season-best 32 points and 13 rebounds for the Jazz, who lost to an Eastern Conference opponent at home for just the second time in the last season and a half and went 2-1 on the residency. The Jazz had won four in a row in Salt Lake City.
"I think we did for the most part, we had a chance to win," said Jefferson. "Things just didn't go our way in the end."
The Jazz held the Bulls to 11 points in the third quarter, only after allowing 58 in the first half. They have dropped two in a row and three of four road games, and own a 9-17 record as the visitor this season.
Sacramento has to be pleased that it is back in California's capital city after a dreadful six-game road trip (1-5).
The well-rested Kings lost the last four contests on the road swing, including Monday's 98-91 overtime loss to Saturday's opponent, the Jazz. Utah outscored the Kings, 14-7, in the extra session and took advantage with DeMarcus Cousins out of the game because of two technical fouls.
Cousins was slapped with his second technical foul before halftime and was ejected for the second time this season, both against Utah. He leads the NBA with 12 T's on the season.
"(The referees) tell us if you have a problem with them, come talk to them," Cousins said of the ejection. "I waited until halftime. He said the same thing he was saying, 'Don't talk to me.' So my response was, 'You don't have to act like an effing female.' I shouldn't have said that. That's about it."
Jason Thompson paced Sacramento with 23 points and 10 rebounds and Tyreke Evans had 20 points for the Kings, who lost for the eighth time in the previous nine tries. Sacramento shot 40.2 percent, including a mere 3-of-20 from behind the arc.
Evans averaged 17.2 ppg on the road trip.
The Kings will also host Houston and are 12-12 at home this season.
Sacramento is just 1-2 against Utah this season and has dropped seven of the past 11 meetings between the teams. The two squads have split the last eight encounters in California.