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Paint defense makes all the difference in Utah’s rebound win over LA

The Utah Jazz flip the script from Saturday by shutting down the LA Lakers in the paint

Utah Jazz v Los Angeles Lakers
The return of Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors make all the difference as the Jazz lock up the paint against the Lakers
Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

The Utah Jazz defeated the LA Lakers Monday night in the 2nd game of a mini-series between the two teams in Los Angeles with a final score of 111-97.

Following an overtime loss Saturday in which the Jazz battled without the services of Mitchell, Gobert, Conley, or Favors, the Jazz come back with a more complete rotation with Rudy, Mike, and Derrick logging significant minutes.

It truly made all the difference having the Jazz defensive anchors roaming the paint. The LA Lakers love to pound the paint and score at the rim. Per Cleaning The Glass, they have the 5th highest frequency of shots at the rim in the league.

On Saturday, that turned into a tough script with the Lakers shooting near 56% in the paint. On Monday, things turned out very different with the Lakers efficiency falling to ##%.

Andre Drummond finished 3-12 while Montrezl Harrell finished 1-4 shooting from the field. Big credit goes to Derrick and Rudy for providing a stellar front line in executing the defensive game plan.

Despite shooting an excellent 43% from 3, the Lakers had an offensive outing ranking in the 27%tile against the Jazz defense (per Cleaning The Glass).

On the other side of the floor, the Jazz were extremely well balanced with six players in double figures. Hitting 46% of their 3’s and 91% of their free throws certainly contributed to a multi-directional attack.

Let’s take a moment to review the 4 Factors of this game from the Jazz perspective:

eFG% advantage: +16.7
TOV% advantage: -7.3
OREB% advantage: -5.2
FTrate advantage: -8.2

The Utah Jazz shot the ball A LOT better than the LA Lakers and kept the other game factors fairly close, leading to a blowout victory on national television.

Utah Jazz v Los Angeles Lakers
Joe Ingles and Jordan Clarkson are secretely and silently in a fierce battle for the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award this season
Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Here are some other fun and interesting aspects from the game:

  • While the Jazz weren’t in transition often (no surprise there), they did have their 2nd best game in transition efficiency per Cleaning The Glass at 2.13 PPP. You can thank their propensity for shooting 3’s in transition for that incredible figure.
  • Joseph Howarth Ingles. While “‘nuff said” certainly applies in this context, he scored 21 points on 11 shots while chipping in 4 rebounds and 5 assists...#6moyAintOver.
  • Andre Drummond had the lowest “Win Probability Added” of -0.11 between the two teams. He just doesn’t have it when playing against Rudy.
  • ESPN broadcaster Mark Jackson commented that the DPOY race (among other awards) will feature a lot of competition with many deserving players. Interesting that those putting money on such subjects think the opposite. Vegas Insiders have Gobert as a -335 favorite over the field to win his 3rd award.
  • The Jazz are back in action Wednesday at 6 pm as they take on the Rockets in Houston who are 2-8 with the 2nd worst point differential in the NBA over the past two weeks.

MVP - Rudy Gobert

The night and day difference between Saturday’s contest that of Monday’s was certainly a collective effect from Conley, Favors, and Gobert. However, Rudy’s defense and offensive execution cannot be understated.

He ended with 14 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks, and 1 steal. Just another ho-hum outing for the Frenchman.

It wasn’t so much the plus-minus (+17) or the highlight stuffs or putback dunks. Rudy’s ability to push the team to wins is what makes him so special.

From the opening tip his presence was felt on both ends of the floor. Even the ESPN broadcast pointed out how drastic the team’s performance swings with and without his presence.

While Joe Ingles, Jordan Clarkson, and Mike Conley had fantastic outings and impact themselves, Rudy’s touch turned a nice win into a route of the Lakers in Staples Center.