Coming off a deflating loss to the Sacramento Kings, head coach Luke Walton called on the Los Angeles Lakers to improve their play as games with playoff-hopeful teams were on the horizon. They heeded the message but still came up short against the Utah Jazz, 117-110.
The loss was the Lakers’ third in a row and seventh in their last 10 games. While they began the contest on a positive note, making their first five field goals, the Lakers ultimately were unable to contain Ricky Rubio.
Coming off a game in which he knocked down a career-high five 3-pointers, Rubio torched the Lakers for for a game-high 31 points to go along with six rebounds and eight assists. After the Jazz fell behind by 10 points in the second quarter, they went on an 11-0 run to take the lead.
Josh Hart’s 3-pointer to beat the buzzer trimmed the Lakers’ deficit to 65-60. But that was quickly offset as Utah ripped off a 13-2 stretch to pull ahead 78-66 for their largest lead of the game to that point.
It swelled to 15 points, though the Lakers managed to close the third quarter on a 13-4 run to cut Utah’s lead to 95-89. A Kentavious Caldwell-Pope 3-pointer, his fifth of the game, pulled the Lakers to within six points of the Jazz with just under seven minutes remaining.
The two teams largely traded baskets down the stretch of the game, with the Lakers never getting closer than six points. Rubio was backed by rookie Donovan Mitchell, who had 26 points on 10-for-21 shooting.
Caldwell-Pope and Kyle Kuzma tied for the team lead with 26 points, and combined for 11 rebounds.