A few hours before the game started, news dropped that LeBron James
would take his annual SLC vacation was a late scratch for the game and the Utah Jazz took advantage winning 132-125.
Minus LeBron, the Lakers needed a big night from other players on the team, and they got that from D’Angelo Russell, who scored 39 on insane efficiency with 8 assists. Had the Lakers gotten a bigger night from Anthony Davis on the offensive end, they might have had a chance, but he shot just 5/21 from the field. There was a reason he struggled at the rim, and the reason was Lauri Markkanen. With Walker Kessler almost completely ineffective this game, Will Hardy adjusted and had Markkanen focus on guarding AD, and he did a masterful job guarding the rim. On top of that, he scored 29 while shooting 50% from the field and 50% from three. Markkanen is showing he’s one of the top 15 players in the league and deserves a spot in the All-Star game and the All-NBA team. With the Jazz winning like they are, it may happen.
There were other players that deserved tons of credit, too. One of those was Collin Sexton. This game started with the Lakers setting the tone with bully ball on the floor and with their mentality. They built a double-digit lead and let the Jazz know. In moments like that you need guys that are ready to step up to the bully, and that guy was Collin Sexton. He never backed down and scored 27 while shooting 61% from the field. The scoring, athletic plays, and defense are all impressive for Sexton, but it’s his belief and fire that sets him apart. Sexton is one of those guys you want when things go down, and that’s not something to be discounted. John Collins also deserves some flowers. He’s changing the narrative with great shot-making, rebounding, and scoring. Collins scored 19 on 7/9 shooting with 13 rebounds. Just massive stuff from Collins. Finally, Keyonte George had a huge night, the explosive rookie hit big shot after big shot as well as getting Austin Reaves fouled out at the end. The future is bright for Keyonte George, it’s only a matter of time before he becomes untouchable as one of the faces of the franchise.