The Utah Jazz answered the call of duty tonight and finally came out and played like they could. After dropping winnable games to the Portland Trail Blazers and Sacramento Kings they took out the trash, the Los Angeles Lakers. The 109-82 win wasn't even close midway through the first quarter. Utah was in complete control and won 32-18, 28-18, 29-23 in the first three quarters, and took the foot off the pedal and lost the fourth quarter 23-20. Not bad, Jazz, not bad. Even more impressive knowing that the Lakers were essentially completely healthy while the Jazz were without Derrick Favors, Alec Burks, Dante Exum, and Trevor Booker -- four major rotation players, two of whom are starters.
It was all Kobe Bryant talk before the game, but after it was all Jazz. Gordon Hayward finished with 14 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 steals. Rodney Hood had 14 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, and drained 4 threes. Trey Lyles had 17 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, and went 2/4 from deep in what is likely to be the last game in Utah for his hero. Trey Burke was a hero tonight off the bench scoring 16 points, and dishing out 3 assists while shooting 50%. But this was the first time we actually saw Gobzilla return.
Rudy Gobert completely dismantled the legend of Roy Hibbert, the Frenchman finished with 18 points, 18 rebounds, 5 blocks, and went 6/8 from the field and 6/7 from the stripe.The humiliation didn't end there, as Jeff Withey added 8 points and 7 rebounds, and a block and a steal. Heck, even Tibor Pleiss got in there for an alley oop finish. Lakers are weak in the paint right now. While the Jazz were making sweet music.
The team played with a spark tonight and it looks like night and day from their previous two games. Of course, a big part of that is playing against the Lakers, who are really bad right now. For his efforts, Kobe finished with 5 points on 8 shots and sat out the second half.
Key win for the Jazz. Glad to always beat the Lakers in Utah.
Utah has a night off, then embark on a four game road trip -- but it's only four games in six nights, and only one back-to-back set: Charlotte Hornets, New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets, and Washington Wizards.