While the Los Angeles Lakers were without LeBron James and Rajon Rondo for a ninth straight game, they faced a similarly undermanned Utah Jazz team that was forced to play Friday night without any of their three point guards.
That pressed Donovan Mitchell into the role, which he not only filled in adequately at but shined to power the Jazz to a 113-95 wire-to-wire victory. An early start gave them a lead that remained in double-digits throughout the night.
As the Lakers were still competitive in the second quarter, the Jazz began to pull away late with a stretch of baskets that included an emphatic dunk by Mitchell on JaVale McGee. It came off a screen, which the Lakers struggled to defend throughout the game.
That was the focal point for McGee, who criticized the team’s defensive strategy and failure to make adjustments in a timely manner, via Tania Ganguli of the L.A. Times:
“I just feel like some of the coverages that we were in should have been adjusted earlier,” McGee said. “But, we didn’t adjust and they kept succeeding at what they were doing.” He added, when asked about Mitchell: “They were setting good screens, and he was getting to the rim, and [Rudy] Gobert was dropping really hard, so it was kind of a conundrum being in between the Gobert lob or the Donovan Mitchell layup.”
Mitchell scored 19 points in the first half en route to finishing with 33. It was a second consecutive 30-point game and sixth such performance this season.
As the Lakers were struggling to match up with Rudy Gobert, they elected to go small and it sparked a rally in the third quarter as the Jazz had to remove him from the court. But all it amounted to was L.A. cutting their deficit to 10 points and failing to get any closer.
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