The Utah Jazz were much more shorthanded than the Los Angeles Lakers in terms of available players, but they relied on what’s been a stingy defense during the month of January to earn a wire-to-wire 113-95 win.
Brandon Ingram shouldered the scoring load early for the Lakers, who went on a 15-5 spurt in the first quarter after falling into a deficit. While it pulled them even with the Jazz, the Lakers conceded a run that left them trailing by six points heading into the second quarter.
They struggled to generate offense in the halfcourt, and the Jazz alertly would intentionally foul whenever it appeared the Lakers were about to get out on a fast break. Kyle Kuzma missed all eight shot attempts in the first half and didn’t score until making one free throw in the second quarter.
The Lakers’ offensive woes were compounded by Lonzo Ball picking up his third foul early in the second quarter and while he initially remained in the game, Ingram checked in at point guard shortly after.
It made little difference, however, as a Jazz run to close the quarter gave them a 62-41 edge at halftime. The 41 points marked the Lakers’ second-fewest in a first half this season, besting only the 38 points they scored against the Jazz on Nov. 23.
Unable to match up with Rudy Goebbert, the Lakers went small in the third quarter and began to mount a furious comeback. Ball’s energy and Michael Beasley’s scoring punch off the bench cut the Jazz lead to 10 points late in the third.
But with an opportunity to get it to single digits, the Lakers fumbled the ball at the rim on multiple occasions and didn’t get the benefit of the doubt with officiating. The Jazz took an 83-68 lead into the fourth, which swelled as the Lakers attempted to buy time with a bench unit.
Donovan Mitchell’s 3-pointer put the Lakers in a 20-point hole and gave him back-to-back 30-point games and six such performances overall this season. The Lakers never truly threatened after that and had their modest two-game winning streak snapped.
More pressing, however, is the Jazz pulled to within one game of the Lakers for eighth place in the Western Conference standings.
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