The Los Angeles Lakers kept things interesting in the 127-115 win over the Utah Jazz, allowing the rivals for a late push in the fourth quarter that led to overtime.
Joe Ingles and Jordan Clarkson launched an avalanche of threes to bring Utah back from a 14-point deficit. Clarkson then nudged the Jazz two points ahead with a triple, leaving the Lakers with just 9.2 seconds to tie the game. Stacked up on shooters, the Western Conference’s No. 1 seed ended the night with 59 attempts from downtown, drilling 23 of them on a 39% 3-point field goal efficiency.
Andre Drummond led the Lakers on offense, alongside Dennis Schroder, scoring team-high 27 points. But defensively, the center faced a difficult matchup against Utah’s 5-out formation. Head coach Frank Vogel even took the 27-year-old off the floor to close out the fourth quarter, although he returned in overtime.
But Vogel still thought Drummond did a good job on the defensive end. “It’s a challenge for any big to play against five 3-point shooters when they’re used to manning the paint and the challenge for us is that he’s so new to our system,” he said.
“Even though we can show him all the tape and take him through all the reps in practice and what not, it takes time to get familiar with the scheme in real-time against an opponent that you’re not sure what they’re gonna run. To have that cohesiveness with his teammates, it takes time.”
Vogel credited Drummond for his part in the third-quarter run that helped the Lakers build their biggest lead of the game. The coach explained he left the two-time All-Star out of the game with crunch time approaching in the last period to limit the damage Utah kept inflicting from behind the 3-point line.
Even though he made that call, Vogel still thought Drummond had a role to play in the game during the overtime period.
“But in that moment, it felt like to get the game under control that was the move to make and we were able to get it back under control and he rewarded my trust by putting him back in there in the overtime by really dominating the overtime with blocked shots and boards and finishing at the rim, even making his free throws when they tried to fouled him,” Vogel said.
Drummond acknowledged L.A. made errors on the defensive end but emphasized the team’s focus in the decisive parts of the clash. “Obviously, we made some mistakes throughout the game which brought them back in that fourth quarter, but when it is time to lock in we found a way to come out with a win,” he said.
Lakers struggle on defense for second game in a row
The Lakers remain the league’s best defense, but the reigning NBA champions seemed unusually vulnerable on that end again against the Jazz after failing to make stops against the Boston Celtics on Thursday.
Marc Gasol pointed out after the 121-113 loss that the Celtics felt “too comfortable” at Staples Center. “They were getting to the spots they wanted,” he said. “We were not physical enough and when we got them to miss, we didn’t either box out or take advantage of those misses translating to easier points offensively.”
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