The Los Angeles Lakers looked to stay undefeated on their road trip, taking on the Utah Jazz in the first of a back-to-back on Tuesday night.
The Lakers need to win every game at this point if they want to avoid the Play-In Tournament, and they were able to take care of business in this one, although it wasn’t a pretty 135-133 overtime victory.
Former Laker Talen Horton-Tucker and the Jazz got off to a quick 5-0 start before the Lakers responded with back-to-back 3-pointers from Austin Reaves and Jarred Vanderbilt.
Midway through the first quarter, the reigning Western Conference Player of the Week in Anthony Davis got going for L.A. as he was the first on either team to double digits. The Jazz were hot from deep in the opening period though, hanging with the Lakers and going into the second with a slim 34-33 deficit.
LeBron James got going for the Lakers to begin the second with a pair of 3-pointers and a monster dunk on an alley-oop from Reaves.
The combo of Horton-Tucker and Kelly Olynyk’s 3-pointer shooting kept the Jazz in it, although the Lakers finally began to pull away towards the end of the half. Dennis Schroder, who got the start in place of the injured D’Angelo Russell, got some easy buckets in the midrange and free-throw line. Davis also continued to dominate inside and the Lakers went into the halftime locker room leading 68-57.
Utah went on an 11-0 run early in the third quarter before Vanderbilt and James hit 3s to restore order for the Lakers. Another former Laker in Damian Jones got going for Utah though, making four straight shots including a rare triple from the big man.
That spurt gave the Jazz momentum as they fought all the way back to get within two. The Lakers again closed the quarter strong, but their lead was still just 97-93 going into the fourth as they continued to let the young, undermanned Jazz hang around.
The Lakers opened up the fourth quarter with three turnovers, which allowed Utah to come all the way back and take the lead at 99-97, forcing a Darvin Ham timeout.
That timeout seemed to wake the Lakers up as Schroder hit a 3 and LeBron finished a thunderous dunk. Davis then had a block and a bucket with L.A. regaining the lead. After a quiet third quarter, the Lakers reestablished Davis’ presence inside in the fourth, allowing him to get to the free-throw line.
The Lakers built their lead back up to eight, but Utah just refused to go away as Ochai Agbaji answered with another 3. James had his own response with a three-point play though and then Reaves had a layup and a 3, which allowed the Lakers to maintain a comfortable lead.
It wasn’t comfortable enough though as the Jazz again fought back in the final minute. Jobes made another 3 and then Olynyk banked one in. Jones got fouled in the final seconds with his team down two and made both to tie it.
The Lakers had 11 seconds to work with, but James missed a layup attempt, sending the game to overtime.
Olynyk began overtime with a three-point play as Utah continued to snatch the momentum before LeBron answered with a big triple. Olynyk then hit one of his own though, continuing to be a torn in the Lakers’ side.
After a free throw by Horton-Tucker, the Lakers and Jazz found themselves tied with 35 seconds to play. James muscled his way in for a big layup, and then Horton-Tucker missed, allowing the Lakers to finally close out the victory.
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