SALT LAKE CITY — Rodney Hood scored 18 points as the Utah Jazz defeated the Sydney Kings 108-83 in their preseason opener Monday. Sydney was visiting from Australia’s National Basketball League in the first game between the two leagues in an NBA preseason game.
The Jazz began a new era for the franchise without All-Star Gordon Hayward, who spent his first seven seasons with the team. Hayward signed with Boston as a free agent. Second leading-scorer George Hill went to Sacramento as a free agent.
Newly acquired Ricky Rubio and Joe Ingles started in place of the pair alongside second-team All-NBA center Rudy Gobert, Hood and Derrick Favors. Gobert finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Hood knocked down four 3-pointers as he attempts to pick up the scoring slack left by Hayward.
“Just coming in and being aggressive,” Hood said. “My teammates are constantly preaching that to me. We’re going to go as Ricky goes, and we’ve got to be open for him. We’ve got to cut hard for him. We’ve got to get to open spots.”
Former Kansas star Perry Ellis scored a game-high 19 for Sydney while teammates Kevin Lisch and Jason Cadee added 13 apiece.
The Jazz led by 19 at the end of the first quarter and never trailed. Sydney did cut the lead to single digits much of the second quarter, to the chagrin of Jazz coach Quin Snyder.
“Awful,” Snyder said about the second-quarter defense. “It’s like anything, even something you think you can be good at, if you’re not attentive to it and you don’t honor it, you won’t be good at it. They got a couple open looks that we didn’t contest and they made them. And they got a couple offensive rebounds … and suddenly they got confidence. Pretty soon they’re hitting some tougher shots.”
Kings: Sydney coach Andrew Gaze faced Snyder when Gaze played for Seton Hall and Snyder was at Duke. … Sydney outscored the Jazz 31-23 in the second quarter.
Jazz: The 2017 No. 13 overall pick Donovan Mitchell was the first guard off the bench for the Jazz and scored 11 points. … Alec Burks had a strong, though short, night with six points and three assists after missing 40 games due to ankle and knee injuries last season.
“It was like a wet bar of soap,” Gaze said of practicing with the leather NBA ball. The NBL uses a synthetic ball.
Kings: Sydney returns to NBL play on Saturday against the Adelaide 36ers.
Jazz: Utah hosts Maccabi Haifa on Wednesday.