Despite coming into the game with multiple Lakers exhibiting flu-like symptoms, the Lakers were able to pick up a hard-fought win in the second game of a back-to-back against the Utah Jazz. The duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis once again came to play and led the Lakers in all major statistical categories on the evening.
However, strong supporting cast play helped the Lakers jump out to (and hang onto) an early lead. Unlike last night, the Lakers were able to snuff out any Jazz run before it even began and held a comfortable double-digit lead for the majority of the second half. Behind a dominant performance from the defense, the Lakers were able to turn over the Jazz often and made the playoff-contender look uncomfortable for the vast majority of the game.
The Lakers get a rest day tomorrow before trying to improve on their 19-3 record on the road against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Lakers vs. Jazz Score/Result
Lakers Win – 121-96
The Good From the Lakers’ Win Over the Jazz
LeBron James & Anthony Davis
Another night, another dominant showing from the duo of Anthony Davis and LeBron James. Combining for 46 points, 10 rebounds, 13 assists, two steals, and three blocks, the duo once again had a massive impact on both ends of the floor.
Despite battling flu-like symptoms, Davis led the Lakers in scoring while locking down the paint in an inspired defensive effort against an extremely strong Utah Jazz team. Davis also played a major role in helping keep the Lakers free throw percentage at a reasonable level, knocking down eight of his nine looks – good for over a third of all free-throws the Lakers would take on the night.
James continues to thrive in his point guard role and upped his season assist average once again after another strong performance sharing the basketball. Even though James was cold from three-point range tonight, his ability to get the rest of the team involved with high-quality looks enables him to still be able to take over games despite the miles on his body.
Caruso checked into the game to start the second quarter and immediately made his presence felt, drawing a pair of offensive fouls. Caruso’s defense has been spectacular all season and tonight was no different. Caruso’s defensive versatility fits in perfectly with the Lakers and his ability to play both with the second unit and alongside the Lakers’ pair of stars makes him an invaluable member of the backcourt.
Caruso finished the game with yet another unassuming box score line of five points, three rebounds, and one assist but his defensive effort once again went well beyond what shows up in the stat sheet. Drawing charges and relentlessly wearing down opposing scorers, Caruso does all the little things that separate good from great defenders.
First Half Rim Protection
The Lakers came out with a strong first quarter, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. Anthony Davis and JaVale McGee did an excellent job of patrolling the rim and forced the Jazz into settling for looks away from the rim. The Jazz scored 15 of 26 first-quarter points from three-point range with only four of their points coming inside the paint. They wouldn’t offer much more breathing room in the second quarter as the Lakers allowed just three baskets in the paint to finish the first half with only 20 points allowed in the paint.
After their slow starting struggles to start the year, the Lakers have done a better job over the past few weeks of getting out to an early lead and establishing their brand of basketball from the jump.
Rondo had himself an excellent night off the bench and once again proved to be a steadying presence on the second unit. Nearly picking up a triple-double, Rondo finished with 14 points, 12 rebounds, and eight assists.
Rondo’s playmaking ability is proving vital to the Lakers and allows Vogel to have a capable option to give LeBron some much-needed breaks running the offense. Early in the season (while Rondo was still injured), the Lakers offense sputtered while James sat. Now, Rondo’s improved shooting and willingness to share the basketball has the capable shooters on the second unit locked in and playing together well.
Kyle Kuzma’s Fourth Quarter Block Party
So it didn’t really have a big impact on the actual outcome of the game but credit where credit is due to Kyle Kuzma. Kuzma picked up three blocks in the final minutes of the game and put an emphatic closing statement on a strong win for the Lakers.
Kuzma has struggled a bit since coming back from injury and it was great to see him engaged and making big plays on the defensive side of the basketball. Sometimes a spark on the defensive end is all a player needs to find their groove offensively and the Lakers would love to have Kuzma’s elite scoring prowess back off the bench.
The Bad From the Lakers’ Win Over the Jazz
The Early Third Quarter
The Lakers played such a well-rounded game that even this might be a bit of a stretch. That said, after their stellar performance shutting down the paint in the first half, the Lakers came out flat to start the second half. Allowing the Jazz to routinely finish with easy looks inside to start the quarter, it took the Lakers a second to get back on track defensively.
While the Jazz wouldn’t use their strong start to the quarter to chip into the Laker lead at all, this now marks the third game in a row where they’ve come out relatively stagnant at the half.
The Ugly From the Lakers’ Win Over the Jazz
The Lakers picked up a win where they comfortably held a double-digit lead for the vast majority of the game. Let’s not nitpick here, the boys earned a break from the “ugly” section.