NBA: Kings inch closer to playoffs, down Jazz
Kevin Huerter poured in a team-high 27 points, Harrison Barnes led a third-quarter surge and the Sacramento Kings moved within one win of clinching their first playoff berth in 17 years with a 121-113 victory over the visiting Utah Jazz on Saturday night.
Keegan Murray chipped in with 22 points and Barnes had 18. Domantas Sabonis recorded 16 to go with a game-high 15 rebounds and team-high seven assists for the Kings (45-29), who could have clinched their first postseason berth since 2006 had the Phoenix Suns lost to the Philadelphia 76ers.
The Suns prevailed, however, meaning the Kings’ magic number for clinching dropped to one. Their next game is Monday at home against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The loss was a costly one for the Jazz (35-39), who began the night tied with the Oklahoma City Thunder and Dallas Mavericks in the loss column in their duel for the final play-in spot in the Western Conference.
Playing for the second consecutive night — as were the Jazz — the Kings trailed 61-55 at halftime and 67-62 with 9:41 left in the third period before taking charge with an 18-4 run. Barnes contributed nine points and Murray five to the run, which flipped the five-point deficit into an 80-71 lead. Sacramento never trailed again.
The Kings overcame a 51.6 percent to 46.3 percent deficit in overall shooting in large part by outscoring the visitors 48-27 on 3-pointers.
Murray had 18 of his 22 points on 3-pointers, going 6-for-12 from beyond the arc.
Huerter, who had 29 points in Friday’s 135-127 home win over the Suns, also found time for seven rebounds, four assists and three steals.
Davion Mitchell (11 points) and Trey Lyles (10) also scored in double figures for the Kings, who topped 120 points for the 39th time this season.
Walker Kessler is the first Jazz rookie EVER with 30+ PTS and 10+ REB in a game. Tonight:
31 PTS (career-high)
— NBA (@NBA) March 26, 2023
Walker Kessler had a game-high and season-best 31 points and Ochai Agbaji added 20 for Utah, which played without its three leading scorers — Lauri Markkanen, Jordan Clarkson and Collin Sexton.
Kessler completed his 19th double-double of the year with a team-high 11 rebounds.
Kelly Olynyk (17 points, game-high 10 assists) also had a double-double for the Jazz, while Jarrell Brantley added 13 points and Kris Dunn 12 in the club’s third straight loss.
NBA: Kings rally past fast-starting Suns
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.