The first of three exhibition games between the National Basketball League (NBL – Australia) and National Basketball Association (NBA – US) hit the court today with the Sydney Kings taking on the Utah Jazz.
The first quarter had the Jazz dominating the Kings, the NBL side clearly struggling to come to terms with the more athletic and faster play from the NBA team.
Utah were getting their hands on the ball at the defensive end with a number of deflections, steals and disruptions to the Kings offensive sets. This was particularly telling with the end of quarter one stats showing that the Kings had turned it over five times to Utah’s zero and Utah turning those Kings turnovers into 11pts.
At the end of one the Jazz led 35 – 16.
The Kings came out more aggressive in the second quarter and took the game to the Jazz. They began pushing the ball up the court faster and were doing a better job of making good decisions with the ball. It also appeared that they had found their rhythm on the court, keeping pace with the Jazz and not allowing the easy buckets that came in the first. In this quarter the turnover stats were flipped around, the Jazz losing it five times to the Kings zero.
Joe Ingles, who would be having a blast playing against a team from home, threw up two extremely nice alley-oop passes to a soaring Rudy Gobert who is the danger for the Kings. They may have two 7ft players on their team but neither of them are proving to be a solid matchup against the Jazz Frenchman.
At the end of the first half the Kings had brought the score back but it was the Jazz leading 58 – 47.
Once the third quarter began it was clear to see that both teams weren’t as energetic as they had been in the previous half of basketball. Both teams missed a number of shots and there was more sloppy passes than earlier in the game. It’s to be expected though, both teams are still finding their way into game fitness.
Gobert made his way upstairs for another big alley-oop dunk, this time off the pass from Rodney Hood. Kings coach Andrew Gaze went deep into his bench in this quarter with Dane Pineau, Sam Daly and Adam Thoseby getting a run while some of the stars got a much needed breather.
Dante Exum, like Ingles playing against a team from home, and Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell look like they will be a lot of fun to watch for Jazz fans this season. Exum showed he is working his way back from injury nicely and should reward Jazz fans this season while Donovan Mitchell could be a steal (if it could be considered that) at pick #13 in the last NBA Draft.
Heading into the final quarter the Jazz extended the lead slightly with the score at 77-60.
The fourth quarter the Jazz ran away with the game and were able to sit the bulk of their regular season roster for most of the final 12 minutes. Of the two teams it was the Kings who blinked first in the tiredness game. Having to battle against the bigger bodies of the Jazz for a full three quarters took much of the energy out of the Kings that was seen in the second quarter.
The Jazz recruits and those fighting for a roster spot, who played in this quarter, showed some great signs on the defensive end. In particular Joel Bolomboy who fought hard on the glass and showed great hustle on both ends.
The Jazz, as mentioned, ran away with the game in this final quarter and the final score read 108-83.
For the Kings, it’s clear that Brad Newley and Kevin Lisch are still the focal points for this team. The Jazz had that scouted and neither player had much free space to do too much damage in todays game. Perry Ellis and Travis Leslie will be good for them with both showing glimpses of whats to come, in the upcoming NBL season, throughout this game. Isaac Humphries also had his moments and if the big 7-footer can find some consistency early into the season then the Kings have a legitimate threat and option down low for this season.
Photo:AP, Rick Bowmer