Without LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the Los Angeles Lakers seem stuck in a cycle where every game is an undermanned fight with less talent than their opponent. Even with the Utah Jazz missing star Donovan Mitchell, the return of Rudy Gobert, Mike Conley Jr., and Derrick Favors meant that the Lakers were overmatched at least on paper. Unfortunately, that’s how it also played out.
Despite the US betting sites having the Lakers as clear favorites to win the Western Conference, the Jazz frustrated the defending NBA champions, beating them 111-97 in a very one-sided contest.
The Jazz cruised to a 29-23 lead in the first quarter and then continued to in the second, outscoring the Lakers 23-19. Utah took a 10-point lead into halftime and doubled that to 20-points with a 33-23 third quarter. With the game out of reach for much of the final frame, the Lakers managed to get as close as 11-points, before falling to a superior Utah team.
- Talen Horton-Tucker scored a career-high 24 points for the Lakers
- Ex-Laker Jordan Clarkson hit 9 of his 14 shots and scored 22-points against his old team. Joe Ingles added 21 and Bojan Bogdanovic scored 19 for the Jazz.
- The Lakers’ never led for the second time in their last three home games, following a wire-to-wire loss to Boston last week.
- Marc Gasol sat out his second straight game after breaking a ligament in his left pinky finger last Thursday.
- The 42 points Los Angeles scored in the first half were their second-fewest of the season.
- Utah Jazz forward Ersan Ilyasova sat out with hamstring tightness.
Lakers Fall in the Standings
The loss was the Lakers sixth in April against just five wins during a frustrating month where they’ve fallen even further in the conference standings. Davis and James are expected to be back in the lineup by the end of April, which can’t come soon enough.
The Lakers sat on top of the conference in mid-February when they lost Davis to a calf strain and Achilles tendinosis in his right ankle. Originally expected to return in late March, the Lakers have been pushing his return back in what seems to be an abundance of caution.
Without Davis, the Lakers immediately went 1-5 and fell from first place in the standings. They finished February with two wins, but dropped their first two games in March, before winning four straight. Then on March 18, James sustained a high ankle sprain which has sidelined him ever since.
Without the two stars in the lineup, Los Angeles has been treading water. They were 8-8 heading into last night’s loss against the Jazz, and have fallen from 2nd in the conference to 5th. They have a slim 3 game lead over the Dallas Mavericks who they will play twice on the road against this weekend, before heading to Orlando and completing their road trip in Washington D.C.