The Los Angeles Lakers faced the NBA’s best defensive team Thursday night looking to end a three game losing streak. After having struggled against Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson’s offensive plays up north in the fourth quarter, the purple and gold needed to find a way to get through the Utah Jazz’s defense at Staples Center.
Last time the two teams met, the Lakers were able to defeat the Jazz in a three point victory thanks to a rally from Jordan Clarkson. This time, Coach Byron Scott will be starting the rookie point guard along with Wayne Ellington, Wesley Johnson, Tarik Black, and Jordan Hill. With a 30-37 record, Utah will be starting Dante Exum, Rodney Hood, Gordan Hayward, Derrick Favors, and Rudy Gobert against the 17-49 Lakers.
Wayne Ellington scored the first hoop of the game before an assist from Tarik Black to Jordan Clarkson gave the Lakers another two points. A scoreless two minutes went by for Utah but Gordon Hayward broke the dry streak by sinking a three point jumper, leading into a turnover from Jordan Hill. Both teams battled up and down the court with rebounds before Black hit the boards with an impressive putback dunk. A nice jump shot from Favors brought the Jazz’s lead up by one but the another layup from Black changed the score to 10-9 with 5:29 left in the quarter. Jeremy Lin was brought into play, immediately getting a steal but was unable to make a basket, allowing the Jazz to make a three off the rebound. Lin came back with vengeance as he stole the ball from Trevor Booker and a pass to Carlos Boozer gave the Lakers another basket. The Jazz continued to put pressure on the Lakers as the shot clock dwindled down, forcing the purple and gold to lose possession of the ball. A Jabari Brown foul gave the Jazz their next two points and as they went out of the quarter with the two point advantage at 18-16.
Trey Burke went on a six point run for Utah to start off the the second quarter but Brown was able to squeeze in a three point shot for the Lakers. Lin got his third steal of the game and a quick pass to Boozer gave the team another two points. The Jazz boosted their lead to 26-21 after Booker made a driving layup shot with the assist from Joe Ingles. Unable to sink any free throws, Davis lost the ball as the rebound from the Jazz gave Burke the opportunity to make another basket. With 8:00 left in the quarter the Lakers trailed by nine points but were again unable to make any baskets as Utah’s defense was overpowering. Davis’ tip-in ended another scoreless two minutes. Favors made only one free throw before the ball traveled back down the court where Black went up to the board for another putback dunk. Utah missed baskets allowed the Lakers to bring their deficit down to four points. A rally from the home team tied the game at 32-32 with an assist from Black to a Johnson dunk before each team made basket to end at the half at 36-33, Lakers.
Back-to-back free throws from Hood began the start of the second half as the Lakers missed three consecutive shots. Another assist from Hood to Favors gave Utah points for a driving layup but Black responded with another slam dunk shot. The Jazz gain a one point lead with a layup shot but the Lakers were soon to tie the score at 39-39. The teams battled up and down the court as each team alternated holding the lead. With 4:18 remaining in the third quarter the Lakers held a three point lead at 46-43 but Hayward quickly changed that after sinking a two point shot. A turnaround jump shot from Boozer gave the Lakers a basket but Elijah Millsap tied the game at 48-48 with a three pointer. Utah took the lead after two clean free throws from Hayward but Davis returned with a dunk on Hayward, picking up a technical. The Jazz went a 5-0 run before a three point shot from Johnson brought the Lakers trail to 58-55, ending the third quarter.
Favors got a layup to start the quarter, but Kelly matched with a jumper off the Boozer assists. Ingles would hit a three, but a Boozer three-point play again allowed the Lakers to match as they remained within three. A tip-in by Davis cut the Jazz lead to a point, but Favors free throws kept the Jazz in front. The Lakers would rally and a jumper from Johnson and three from Brown would put the Lakers ahead by two midway through the fourth. A three-point play from Hayward put the Jazz right back in front, but a Clarkson floater gave the Lakers a one-point lead. A dunk from Favors and Hayward free throws put the Jazz back ahead by three with three minutes left. Clarkson hit a pair of free throws to get the Lakers within one, but Burke responded with a tough layup to keep the Jazz’s three-point cushion. Another Burke floater and free throws from Hayward effectively put the game out of reach as they led by seven with only one minute remaining. Black had one more massive dunk, this one over Millsap, but it was too little too late as the Lakers fell 80-73.
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