After a disappointing loss at home to the Toronto Raptors, the Los Angeles Lakers head to the road for the second night of a back-to-back against the Utah Jazz.
Turnovers remain a problem for the Lakers who committed 21 in Friday’s loss. Luke Walton was also unhappy with his starters’ defensive effort, benching them in the third quarter for what he called ‘a teaching moment.’
Things won’t get any easier against the Jazz, one of the premier defensive teams in the NBA. Rudy Gobert is the league’s best rim protector so the Lakers will have to be careful with how they attack the rim and hopefully get some outside shots to fall.
Rookie Lonzo Ball has been in an awful shooting slump over the past three games so he will definitely be looking to break out of that as the Lakers will need all the points they can get against this suffocating defense.
After a nice move by Brook Lopez to get the scoring started for the Lakers, they struggled to get buckets. Caldwell-Pope was able to add a basket and Ingram embarrassed Joe Ingles with a crossover and dunk, but the Lakers defense stumbled out of the gates. Derrick Favors was on fire early and Ingles and Rodney Hood each hit threes as the Lakers trailed 14-7.
Things stayed pretty ugly for the Lakers as they struggled to create against the Jazz defense, falling behind 21-7 until a Kyle Kuzma runner ended the long drought. Ball would follow with a three, but the Lakers remained behind by double-digits.
Clarkson knocked down a couple baskets, but a Donovan Mitchell three to end the first quarter gave the Jazz a 31-16 lead.
Julius Randle got things going early for the Lakers with a pair of baskets, but the Lakers were unable to cut the deficit to single-digits. The Lakers’ defense was a lot better in the second though, as they held the Jazz to just four points in the first five minutes.
Josh Hart’s transition defense led to a layup for Kuzma on the other end as well as a Quin Snyder technical foul. Randle would then find Hart in transition for a layup as the Lakers cut the deficit to eight points. Unfortunately the Lakers could never really get it much lower than that.
Ricky Rubio continued his hot shooting and the Jazz had an answer every time the Lakers made a couple shots as they went back ahead by 14. The teams traded baskets down the stretch as the Lakers went into the half trailing by 11, 56-45.
Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram got the Lakers off to a solid start in the third. Ball continued to be the only Laker who could hit from deep and also found Ingram on a beautiful full court pass to bring the Lakers back within eight points.
The Lakers continued to keep the deficit manageable, but were unable to really cut into it as the teams went through a horrible stretch filled with turnovers on both ends. Kuzma came in and knocked down a three-pointer to finally get the Lakers within six, but Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell took over down the stretch.
Mitchell threw down a putback dunk that will be a candidate for dunk of the year and followed it up with a deep three-pointer to put the Jazz back ahead by 11 at the end of the quarter 75-64.
Clarkson hit a fadeaway and a layup on a beautiful pass from Randle as the Lakers quickly got within seven points early in the quarter. The Lakers would eventually get the lead down to five, but an untimely drought did them in again.
The Jazz pushed the lead back to double-digits mainly by crashing the offensive glass. The Lakers gave solid effort on defense, but were unable to finish out the possession by grabbing the rebound, Utah multiple chances on multiple possessions.
The Lakers would continue to fight down the stretch, but everytime they cut into the lead, an open Jazz three or putback after an offensive rebound would push them right back out of it. Mitchell and Rubio ended with threes as the Lakers would fall to the Jazz 96-81.