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Jazz overcome slow starts, turnovers to knock off Kings 104-84

SALT LAKE CITY — It’s a good thing first impressions aren’t the only thing that count for the Utah Jazz.

If you only watched the beginning of the first and second halves Saturday night, you might’ve thought Utah got blown away by Sacramento.

The Kings began the game on an 11-0 run. Then Sacramento came out of the locker room and started the second half with the first 10 points.

It didn’t take the Jazz long in either half to rectify their mistakes and cruise to a 104-84 victory over the Kings.

“Tonight it was a sloppy game. We had 22 turnovers for us, but we found a way to win,” Jazz small forward Gordon Hayward said. “These are must-win games for us.”

The Jazz improved to 15-10, winning their eighth in 10 games, after Hayward returned to the lineup following his absence in Thursday’s 106-99 loss to the Warriors.

Hayward totaled 26 points on 9-of-19 shooting, becoming the first Jazz player since Karl Malone in 2001 to notch 10 straight games with 20 or more points.

“I’m happy about the win,” he said, also deflecting credit to his teammates for helping him get open shots.

The Jazz also got yet another big night from Rudy Gobert. The Stifle Tower outplayed All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins (16 points on 7-of-22 shooting) with 17 points, 14 rebounds and a season-high six blocked shots.

Trey Lyles (14 points) and fill-in starter Joe Ingles (11 points) also hit double figures for the Jazz, who played without George Hill (toe), Derrick Favors (knee), Rodney Hood (hamstring) and Alec Burks (ankle).

The team benefited from a nice contribution from the bench. Lyles added five rebounds with three treys, Joe Johnson scored eight points and registered a plus-36 in 25 minutes, Raul Neto chipped in eight points, Shelvin Mack scored six with five assists, and Withey grabbed seven rebounds and anchored the defense in Gobert’s absence.

That unit helped the Jazz hold the Kings to eight points in the fourth quarter as Utah turned a 78-76 lead after three quarters into a cakewalk.

Jazz coach Quin Snyder playfully interrupted a question about it being a big night for the bench by asking, “For our starters or our bench? Because our starters are our bench.”

Duly noted.

Both sets of benches played relatively well outside of the 22 turnovers, which led to 36 Kings points.

“I thought they gave us a lot of juice,” Snyder said of the non-starting bench.

The injury-ravaged Jazz used their 13th different starting lineup — Dante Exum, Joe Ingles, Hayward, Boris Diaw and Gobert — and it looked like it.

Diaw, Gobert, Ingles and Exum had turnovers on the Jazz’s first four possessions, and Hayward missed a long jumper on the next one.

The Kings, meanwhile, looked fresh despite having lost to the Knicks in Sacramento on Friday night en route to an 11-0 opening.

After an early timeout, Diaw hit a 3-pointer to spark a 20-3 Jazz run.

A half later, Utah answered the Kings’ second-half 10-0 run with a 14-5 push.

The teams went back and forth the rest of the third quarter until the Jazz outscored the Kings 26-8 in the fourth.

“It was a tough start, but the bench came in and got us back in it and then we did it again,” said Ingles, who had 11 points in this second start this season. “So obviously it’s something we have to look at and fix, but we had a really good last quarter where we needed to get stops, which we did and we made plays when we had to.”

The Jazz have a few days off before continuing their season-high five-game homestand Wednesday against Northwest Division-leading Oklahoma City.

Kings coach Dave Joerger thought his players “fought like crazy,” but poor shooting and that dismal fourth quarter led to Utah’s win.

“We scored eight (in the fourth). We shot 37 percent. It’s tough,” Joerger said. “They do a great job of clogging the paint. You got to make shots if you’re going to get them.”