SALT LAKE CITY — Even if the Utah Jazz are not playing for playoff seeding, their minds haven't turned to summer vacation quite yet.
The Jazz have won five of six with four games remaining after a 103-91 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday.
"We learned a lot this year, hopefully we can carry that over into next year," Jazz forward Derrick Favors said.
Favors scored 18 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and blocked three shots as the Jazz rallied from six down at halftime. Rodney Hood finished with 20 points and a career-high seven rebounds, while Rudy Gobert had 12 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks. The Jazz (36-42) erased that halftime deficit in the third quarter and started the fourth with an 18-5 run.
"My goal for the rest of this year is to just try to win as much as we can," Hood said. "It's going to be a real big offseason for everybody on the team. One of the best offseasons for all of us because we know we have something special ahead."
Omri Casspi led the Kings (27-51) with 16 points, while Jason Thompson added 12 points and 11 rebounds.
The teams played a lackluster first half that ended with the Kings leading 49-43. Neither team shot well, going a combined 15 for 40 at one point late in the first quarter.
Both teams are already eliminated from the playoffs.
"I thought as a whole the guys came out to compete," Kings guard Ray McCalllum said. "But it was really different not having Cousins and Rudy back there."
Kings: Sacramento is 1-6 in its last seven games. ... Sacramento mayor and former All Star Kevin Johnson attended the game.
Jazz: Gordon Hayward finished with four points on 1-for-3 shooting in just 19 minutes and looked fatigued while on the court. Coach Quin Snyder said they are playing him limited minutes, but don't plan to sit him for the rest of the season. ... Gobert has 22 double-doubles this season.
The Kings were without all-star Cousins (foot), Darren Collison (core muscle), Rudy Gay (concussion), Nik Stauskas (back) and Erick Moreland (shoulder). They started Casspi, Carl Landry, Thompson, Ben McLemore and McCallum for the first time this season. Karl said he hopes to have Cousins back this season.
"I always compare it to my CBA days," Kings coach George Karl said. "Where you lose a guy to Europe, then another guy gets hurt, then another guy gets called up to the NBA. Your whole personality of your team changes. Our job is to figure out how to piece and put the puzzle together in a way ... every NBA team has a lot of talent on it. Sometimes the talent that doesn't play just needs the opportunity to play."
Jazz rookies Dante Exum and Hood both plan to play in the summer league after the season. Snyder talked about the benefits.
"I'd like to see their habits continue," Snyder said. "Sometimes when you get into the summer setting, it's easy to (say) 'Oh, I'll do that during the year.' I'd like to see the consistency of focus on the things that we've talked about doing defensively.
"In both cases, they're going to have reps. So they're both going to have opportunities to continue to make decisions. It's like a quarterback taking snaps. The more reps you get, particularly in pick-and-roll. Those situations, there's so many nuances of what's going on. I think you just need time and you need reps in order to get better."
GEORGE AND BOOGIE
Karl took over the Kings on Feb. 17 and said Wednesday that Cousins has been the biggest positive since he took over, adding he's "better than I thought it was" and "there's not a weakness in his game." Karl also said there must be some changes from Cousins emotionally.
"We've got to get to a different place than we are right now with regards to the emotional failures and the refereeing and the lacks of the defensive retreats," Karl said, "because we're complaining and frustrated because of a call. Bad calls have been around in this game forever. It's not going to go away.
"Our job is to learn how to handle it and how to get better with it. Can I help with the league office? Show him, this is what a foul is and this is what isn't. ... It's going to be more scientific. The emotional control is: here are the facts. These are the facts. This isn't a guessing game. ... And I like emotion. I like players that care. But we can't let it be a negative."
Kings: At Oklahoma City on Friday.
Jazz: Host Memphis on Friday.
All content copyright ©2015 Daily Journal, a division of Home News Enterprises unless otherwise noted.