While the Los Angeles Lakers have not done their draft odds any favors as of late, their winning ways finally came to an end in a loss versus the Utah Jazz, 115-100.
The shorthanded Lakers struggled to get on the board early on after missing their first five shots of the game until Kyle Kuzma was finally able to scratch by banking in two three-pointers to keep them in the game. Utah still found it much easier to score than Los Angeles did thanks to the latter’s porous defense which helped them get some quality looks at the basket.
Kuzma continued to carry the load for the Lakers on offense by scoring 12 of the team’s first 25 points. Despite his best efforts, the Jazz were able to end the first quarter with a seven-point lead.
Los Angeles took full advantage of Rudy Gobert’s absence to begin the second quarter by making a concerted effort to attack the paint. Although they managed to get easier looks at the rim with Gobert out, Utah was able to stay ahead thanks to a team-high 13 points from Derrick Favors.
Moe Wagner provided a much-needed spark off the bench by hitting his first three shots of the game, including one from deep. The Lakers were then somehow able to overcome a five-minute scoring drought to stay within striking distance as the Jazz went into halftime with a 60-53 lead.
The Lakers got off to an even worse start in the second half as the Jazz opened up the third quarter on a 7-0 run before head coach Luke Walton was forced to call an early timeout. They did not fare much better coming out of the break with Utah playing the majority of the third quarter with a comfortable double-digit lead.
Los Angeles simply could not get anything going on either side of the floor against this opportunistic Utah team. Meanwhile, Kuzma had cooled off considerably since his hot start to the game and it was not long before they fell behind by 20.
It was the South Bay Lakers that managed to get things started on the right foot with an alley-oop from Scott Machado to Alex Caruso followed by a couple of buckets off a pick-and-roll from Caruso to Jonathan Williams on the first four possessions of the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, the Jazz defense proved to be too stingy as they ultimately went on to secure their spot in the Western Conference playoffs.