Jazz take top spot in NBA playoffs, thump Kings 121-99
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Jordan Clarkson scored 33 points, Rudy Gobert added 13 points and 16 rebounds and the Utah Jazz took the No. 1 spot in the NBA playoffs, beating the Sacramento Kings 121-99 on Sunday night.
Utah (52-20) won its final two to edge Western Conference-rival Phoenix for the top spot. It’s the first time in franchise history that the Jazz have finished with sole possession of the best record in the NBA.
Mike Conley had 11 points, nine assists and six rebounds in his second game back after missing two weeks because of a right hamstring injury. Bojan Bogdanovic had 18 points.
Now comes the waiting game for coach Quin Snyder’s team. Utah awaits one of the surviving teams from the play-in games that begin Tuesday and end Friday.
Terence Davis had 20 points for Sacramento. The Kings, who started four reserves, finished the season with a three-game losing streak.
A loss to Sacramento in the final regular season game would have dropped Utah into a tie with Phoenix, and the Suns held the tiebreaker after sweeping three games against the Jazz.
Instead, the Jazz shook off a slow start and thumped the Kings for the second time in three weeks.
Utah led by 15 at halftime and continued to pull away in the second half. Bogdanovich scored nine points and dunked off a bounce pass from Royce O’Neal, while Clarkson added a pair of 3s as part of a 20-4 run in the third quarter. O’Neal’s 3-pointer later pushed Utah’s lead to 90-61.
Clarkson sank three free throws midway through the fourth to make it 113-87.
Conley, limited to 16 minutes against Oklahoma City on Friday in his return from a right hamstring injury, got the Jazz going after they sputtered early. He had 11 points with three 3s and seven assists to help Utah to a 64-49 lead.
Jazz: Utah had twice previously tied for the best record in 1998 and in the lockout-shortened season in 1999. … The Jazz finished with a franchise-record 1,205 3-pointers. … Utah set franchise records for scoring (154) and margin of victory (49) when the two teams played on April 28 at Golden 1 Center.
Kings: Hield went 1 of 7 on 3-pointers will head into next season four shy of Peja Stojakovic’s franchise career record of 1,070. … De’Aaron Fox (health and safety protocols), Marvin Bagley (leg), Harrison Barnees (left adductor), Richaun Holmes (knee) and Moe Harkess (unknown) did not play.
Jazz: Utah will get a week of rest before facing the No. 8 seed in the playoffs. The play-in rounds wrap up Friday.
Kings: Sacramento heads into the offseason facing questions about coach Luke Walton’s future with the team and a roster that underachieved for much of the season. Holmes is the only player of significance who will be a free agent.
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