Kings' Brown keeps postgame message simple after loss to Jazz


For the first time since the All-Star break, the Kings lost a game they should have won Monday night, falling 128-120 to the Utah Jazz at Vivint Arena.

Sacramento, which entered the night tied for the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference, was attempting to finish off an unblemished four-game road trip in Utah on a high note against a team operating without All-Star forward Lauri Markkanen and guard Jordan Clarkson.

It looked like an easy win on paper. But the Kings stumbled out of the gate and found themselves down by as many as 25 points in the first half. Sacramento's valiant comeback effort ran out of gas down the stretch.

Kings coach Mike Brown didn’t have many words to offer his team after the loss. He had the bigger picture in mind.

“I just walked in the locker room, said, ‘Bring it in. One, two, three!’ ” Brown told reporters after the game. “That’s it. I didn’t say anything. And then dapped them up and left.”

Brown, in his first year in Sacramento, has proven to be a wizard when it comes to sending the perfect message to his players at the right time. Brown has praised the Kings after losses, challenged players to do more during hot streaks, defended his guys through rough patches and demanded more after wins.

But Monday night -- after a successful 3-1 road trip that began with wins over the Chicago Bulls, Brooklyn Nets and Washington Wizards -- there wasn’t much to say.

It wasn’t difficult to pinpoint what went wrong Monday night. The Kings were down by 16 points within eight minutes and couldn’t stop Jazz rookie Ochai Agbaji, who finished with a career-high 27 points.

“We lost this game in the first quarter,” guard De’Aaron Fox said. “We shot ourselves in the foot. Obviously, we fought back but you don’t even want to be in that type of position.”

As they have done all season long, the Kings chipped away. Behind five 3-pointers by Keegan Murray in the third quarter alone, Sacramento tied the game heading into the fourth and took its first lead of the game three minutes into the final frame.

“With the way that the game is played now, you always have a chance to get back in the game," Fox said. "We never felt like we were going to … just lay down and lose.”

Fox, on a collision course to take home the Clutch Player of the Year award this season, didn't have his typical finishing touch as the Kings were outscored 10-2 in the final 1:45. 

The loss dropped Sacramento one spot in the standings, as the Memphis Grizzlies defeated the Dallas Mavericks by four points Monday and now own a one-game lead over the "Beam Team."

Losing a game the Kings were expected to win hurts, but it's not quite inexcusable when it's stacked up with the team's resume-boosting 11-3 hot streak after the All-Star break.

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There just wasn’t enough in the tank Monday night. The Kings' disappointing loss in Salt Lake City becomes forgivable if they show up Tuesday night in front of the Golden 1 Center home crowd and take down championship contenders in the Boston Celtics.

That matchup will be another measuring stick for a team that has passed so many tests this season with flying colors. It just didn't happen Monday night in Utah.

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