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Given what may be at stake at the end of the regular season, there is sure to be a lot of key players missing when the Utah Jazz (51-20) visits the Sacramento Kings (31-40) Sunday night.
If the Phoenix Suns (50-21) lost to the San Antonio Spurs in their match on Sunday, that match would be meaningless in terms of classification in the play-offs. But if the Suns wins, they will press Jazz to end the season with a win in order to maintain the first place they have had mostly for the past few months.
Kings were eliminated from post-season for the fifteenth consecutive year on Thursday.
Sacramento will depend on its young, unknown heart to cope with the discomfort. Kings coach Luke Walton told reporters that Diaron Fox, Teresa Halliburton, Harrison Barnes, Marvin Bagley III and Rachel Holmes would not play in the last game of the season.
The jazz will not have all-star goalkeeper Donovan Mitchell, who still has an ankle injury, but Mike Conley is back on Friday after missing a few weeks with hamstring problems. Score 10 points in limited minutes. Connelly did not play in the second half but said he knows Jazz knows they want to play and protect them.
He said, “I went there and had fun.” “It was so much fun to get to draw and do plays. I got a lot of free throw line. Kind of feel the game and pick and pick my locations to be aggressive.”
“Mike is a big part of what we do,” said Rudi Joubert of the Jazz Music Center. “He is one of our leaders, he is our most experienced player. We know we will need him.”
If the jazz team wins, they will take the top seed throughout the qualifiers. If the Suns won and Jazz lost, then Utah would finish second overall.
It’s not a big problem that Mitchell came out last month with a sprained ankle, Connelly said.
“We can integrate ourselves really easily,” he said.
Kings nearly scored a surprise win on Friday despite diving into the bench.
Sacramento had a final second of their 3-point win attempt by Terence Davis, bouncing off the edge in a loss to Memphis.
“The overall effort has been remarkable,” said Sacramento coach Luke Walton.
The Kings were particularly impressed by the recent duo position Louis King, who scored 27 points as the highest team.
“Not many people get this opportunity,” King said. “Not everyone in the NBA can say they got the chance to play so many big minutes. Fortunately, the coach looked my way, and I took it as an opportunity for myself and a chance for me to shine.”
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