3 Things We Learned From Utah’s Season Opener


The Utah Jazz got a win in their first regular season game, but it was far from pretty. Last year proved to be a struggle for them on the road, and last night showed that all of their demons might not have gone away. Yes, at triple zeroes they were in front of their opponent, but there’s more to all of that if you take a closer look.

With that being said, here are three things we learned from the first win of the season for the Utah Jazz.

Photo Courtesy of SacTown Royalty (SB NATION)

Utah only won the second quarter

While the final score gives Utah the nod to improve to 1-0, the break down by quarter tells a very different story. Based on the action these two teams produced in the preseason, there was a lapse in expectation, it seems, on part of the Jazz. This showed right away in the first quarter, which the Kings ended on top, 34-30.

Thankfully, Utah was able to put together a 38-point second quarter and shut the Kings down to just 21 points in that frame. The 17 point gap in the quarter allowed Utah to go up 13 at the half — a lead that they were lucky to hold on to.

Sacramento came storming out again in the second half, winning the third quarter 32-25. If the teams hadn’t come to a draw at 30 points apiece in the final quarter, the Jazz might’ve lost a game that nobody really saw them losing, let alone struggling in.

The Kings were also on the short end of the stick due to giving the Jazz 38 free throws while only going to the line 18 times themselves. Out of those chances at the line, Utah got 28 of them to go in, proving to be a crucial difference between the two teams at the final horn.

Photo Courtesy of NBA.com

The Kings are much better at first glance than expected

Unless you’re a die-hard Sacramento fan, the realistic chances of them giving the Jazz any run for their money was slim to none coming into the season opener. However, in addition to them winning two of the four quarters outright and tying in a third against a playoff tier team, there was not much of a gap elsewhere. Looking at field goal percentage, the Jazz were only slightly better (gap of 0.3%).

Sacramento also matched the offensive rebound output of Utah at five boards apiece, and outscored the Jazz by eight when it came to points in the paint. The game had 16 steals between the two teams, and each side had eight of their own.

Looking more into how the Kings collapsed– if they didn’t commit 27 fouls to the 19 of the Jazz, they’d probably have ended up on top.

The other major indicator of this is the turnover margin. The Jazz committed 17 turnovers to just nine from the Kings. Normally, this turnover margin is more than enough to help the team with better control of the ball get the win, but this was a rare exception.

Utah should proceed with caution; Sacramento should proceed with cautious optimism.

Photo Courtesy of Getty Images

The Jazz are going to have to win a lot of games the ugly way

If you thought that this season was going to be a cake walk for the Jazz, you couldn’t be more off. While they’ve got the talent to be a top team in the Western Conference, the road to get there come playoff time is not one that they’re going to get overnight.

They’ve still got a lot to prove if they’re plan on dethroning Golden State as the best team in the best conference. How they handled the game against the Kings wasn’t pretty, but we were shown a glimpse of this in their first round series against Oklahoma City last season.

It is not always going to look pretty, but what counts at the end of the day is wins — and the Jazz luck out on that. If they struggled against Sacramento in their season opener, the hope is that they can be ready against a much better Warriors team when Salt Lake City welcomes them for their home opener on Oct. 19. The Warriors are not going to make the same mistakes Sacramento did, and the Jazz have to figure out how to be better sooner than later to stay afloat.

Lastly, the game against the Kings was good in the sense that it was a good competition. The question, though, remains as to whether or not the Jazz will actually learn and grow from it. We must not forget how bad of a start they had last season and the completely unexpected turnaround that happened late in the season to save their year.

Utah plays Sacramento three more times this season. Twice at the end of November and then in early April for their second to last home game of the year.


About Keith Rivas

Keith is based In Salt Lake City and covers the Jazz for TLSM. Follow him on Twitter @mrkeithrivas for all things Utah Jazz.

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