TV: NBA TV
- The Utah Jazz remain as shorthanded tonight as they were against the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday. They’re still without Gordon Hayward (right shoulder strain), Earl Watson (lower right leg bone bruise/stress fracture) and Mo Williams (right thumb surgery). That leaves them thin at point guard as second-year shooting guard Alec Burks basically becomes the team’s backup point guard. “That’s where we are,” said Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin. “We’ll have to continue to move some things around. He’s (Burks) functioned there for us for a while before.”
- Sacramento Kings coach Keith Smart said Burks’ playing out of position could actually help his NBA growth in the long run. Smart compared how he moved Tyreke Evans from point guard to shooting guard to how Burks can progress while playing point guard. “For his (Evans) game to expand he needed to get away from the ball and now he can see the game a little differently,” Smart said. “Well, it may help Alec’s game a little bit because now he’s able to see the floor. (When) he goes back to his natural position, he’s not just looking at the rim. He’s looking to become more of a playmaker. It may be painful right now, but in the long run it probably benefits him because it allows him to see the game outside of his own position.”
- The Kings will probably attack the Jazz the way teams do when they’re thin at point guard. Sacramento will likely emphasize more ball pressure and try to wear Utah’s point guards down. “When you have key components out of the game, it’s always going to be a little bit of a struggle,” Smart said. “They’re playing well, but they’re not their team right now because of injuries.”
- Sacramento is closing out a six-game road trip tonight. The Kings are 1-4 on the trip, and they’ve lost their last three games by an average of 22 points. Smart didn’t use the franchise’s possible move to Seattle as an excuse, but admitted that the distractions the team is dealing with can be troubling. “We focus on the day,” Smart said. “I have friends who live out here and the question that pops up is, ‘What’s going on?’ So it’s going to constantly be there and we all know that.”
- Jason Thompson returns to the starting lineup for the Kings after a one-game absence. Francisco Garcia replaced him on Saturday against the New York Knicks, but Thompson will be back in for the opening tip tonight.
– Andrew Aragon