Since being eliminated from playoff contention, head coach Luke Walton and the Los Angeles Lakers have essentially played their best basketball of the 2018-19 NBA season.
They have won six out of their last nine games after coming back to defeat the Utah Jazz at Staples Center on Sunday night.
With so many players out due to injury and veterans like Rajon Rondo and Tyson Chandler also not players, a lot of players that haven’t gotten many opportunities at the NBA level this season played major minutes against the Jazz.
Led by Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s 18 fourth-quarter points, the Lakers were able to erase a double-digit deficit to earn the victory.
Walton was pleased with what he saw from his team, complimenting his players for making the most of their opportunities.
“A rewarding win for the group,” Walton said after the 113-109 win over the Jazz.
“It’s great to watch the game being played when you just have guys out there giving it their all. No agenda other than to win the game. We were down to eight players and a lot of those guys were getting opportunities they wouldn’t get and it’s a lot of fun. It’s beautiful actually to watch the game as they’re leaving it all on the court.”
Caldwell-Pope has been playing his best basketball of the season as of late, and he finished with a game-high 32 points to go along with six rebounds and six assists.
Jemerrio Jones, who recently signed a deal with the Lakers after excelling with the team’s G League affiliate in South Bay, also played the best game of his young career. He only scored five points but had a game-high 16 rebounds and five assists while playing superb defense on Donovan Mitchell.
Alex Caruso continued his strong play to close out the season with a double-double at 18 points and 11 assists.
After such a disappointing season for the Lakers, it is nice to see them finishing strong and competing every night even though there is no longer a playoff spot within reach.