NBA: Ochai Agbaji’s career night powers Jazz past Kings
Rookie Ochai Agbaji scored a career-high 27 points to lead the short-handed Utah Jazz to a 128-120 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Monday night in Salt Lake City.
Agbaji, who led Kansas to the NCAA championship a year ago, made several key plays down the stretch to help the Jazz win despite the absence of injured starters Lauri Markkanen (back), Jordan Clarkson (finger) and Collin Sexton (hamstring).
Eight Jazz players scored in double figures as Utah (35-36) jumped out to a 25-point lead and then regained composure after falling behind early in the fourth quarter.
Kelly Olynyk tallied 19 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, Kris Dunn added 18 points and 10 assists off the bench and Udoka Azubuike contributed 13 points and eight boards for the Jazz. Walker Kessler had 10 points, eight rebounds and five blocked shots.
— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) March 21, 2023
De’Aaron Fox produced 37 points and seven assists and Keegan Murray had 22 points, but the Kings (43-28) saw their three-game winning streak end. Sacramento also took its first loss in eight road outings.
The Kings grabbed their first lead at 100-98 with 9:15 remaining and seemed to have the momentum after erasing the Jazz’s big lead with a 43-point third quarter.
However, Utah didn’t back down and went up 102-100 thanks to consecutive dunks by Azubuike.
Sacramento’s Domantas Sabonis, who only scored 11 points but had 12 rebounds and nine assists, broke a tie with a bucket at the 2:58 mark.
Ogbaji responded with a 3-pointer and added another basket for a 118-115 Utah lead with 2:06 to go.
Fox and Olynyk then traded 3-pointers, and Dunn made it a five-point Jazz lead with two makes at the free-throw line with 1:06 remaining.
A Sabonis dunk cut the gap to 123-120, but Agbaji restored the five-point advantage with a pair of free throws with 41.1 remaining and Utah closed it out.
The Jazz went on a 19-1 run and held Sacramento to 19 first-quarter points en route to a 21-point lead. The margin grew to 25 early in the second quarter.
The Kings trimmed into the deficit a bit before heading into halftime trailing 68-52. The Jazz shot 56.5 percent from the field and hit 10 of 21 3-point attempts in the explosive first half.
Sacramento opened the third quarter on a 24-10 run and pulled even heading into the fourth quarter after the teams exchanged 7-0 surges.