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The Utah Jazz needed a victory to clinch the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference playoffs. The Kings couldn’t offer much resistance as the conversation in Sacramento turned to coach Luke Walton’s future with the organization.
Jordan Clarkson scored 33 points to lead the Jazz to a 121-99 victory over the Kings on Sunday night at Golden 1 Center, helping Utah secure the No. 1 seed and homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs.
Bojan Bogdanovic had 18 points for the Jazz (52-20), which won seven of its last nine games to finish with the best record in the NBA. Rudy Gobert posted 13 points and 16 rebounds.
Terence Davis scored 20 points for the Kings (31-41), who missed the playoffs for the 15th year in a row to match the longest postseason drought in NBA history. Damian Jones added 19 points and six rebounds for Sacramento, which was shorthanded again with De’Aaron Fox, Tyrese Haliburton, Harrison Barnes, Richaun Holmes, Marvin Bagley III, Justin James and Hassan Whiteside all out of the lineup.
Buddy Hield had 13 points, a career-high-tying nine assists and seven rebounds. He went 1 of 7 from 3-point range, finishing the season four 3-point goals short of Peja Stojakovic’s franchise record of 1,070.
Walton said he was confident he would return next season when asked about his future with the Kings on Friday, but he has received no assurances from the organization. He is owed $11.5 million over the next two seasons. When asked about his future again before Sunday’s game, Walton said he is not concerned about his fate after posting a 68-82 (.431) record in his first two seasons.
“It doesn’t weigh on me because it’s the same thing I always talk about — it’s control what you can control — the same message I give my players every day,” Walton said.
“… So if you ask me, I’ll tell you, no, I’m not concerned at all because it doesn’t do anything for me or the group to be concerned, so we’ll stay focused on the positive and the good things. Like I continue to say, I’m excited about this group and excited about our future.”
The Kings finished in a three-way tie with the New Orleans Pelicans and Chicago Bulls for the eighth-worst record in the NBA. A random drawing will determine which teams are slotted eighth, ninth and 10th in the draft lottery. Those teams will have identical odds of jumping into the top four in the draft.
Jazz: OUT — Donovan Mitchell (ankle).
Kings: OUT — Marvin Bagley III (groin); Harrison Barnes (adductor); De’Aaron Fox (health and safety protocols); Tyrese Haliburton (knee); Richaun Holmes (knee); Justin James (ankle); Hassan Whiteside (back).