It wasn't pretty, it wasn't much fun for the most part, to be honest, but the Utah Jazz (19-13) moved into the 6th spot in the Western Conference, getting the win over the Los Angeles Lakers (12-23) 102-100 behind Gordon Hayward's big night, (31 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists) Derrick Favors' return, (8 points, 6 rebounds) and Joe Ingles (13 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists) who hit a critical three-pointer late in the fourth quarter. The two teams acted like they had been visited by Jacob Marley and his ghostly ensemble over Christmas during the first 2.5 quarters, as they were determined to give each other the ball, combining for 44 turnovers. Still, the score remained close after both teams settled down, and the Lakers played gritty, aggressive basketball, but couldn't get it done down the stretch, seeing their hopes dashed on a D'Angelo Russell airball at the buzzer.
Key Stat of the Night:
Utah Jazz: Offensive Rebounds in the 4th
The Jazz were getting outhustled at times in this one, but during the final period they put the clamps down and recorded four offensive rebounds to the Lakers one. Total rebounds in the quarter were also in favor of the Jazz, who outrebounded the Lakers 10-7. In such a close game, that makes a big difference.
Los Angeles Lakers: Points Per Turnover
Both teams allowed an unacceptable number of turnovers in this game, and the Lakers actually had fewer overall turnovers (16) and gave up fewer points (22) than the Jazz (20 tov, 24 tov pts). However, the Lakers' turnovers were worse, as they allowed 1.375 points per turnover compared to Utah's 1.2. The Lakers forced many turnovers, yes, but failed to capitalize to the extent they needed to
Utah Jazz: Gordon Hayward and Joe Ingles
Gordon Hayward had an all-star-level performance tonight, leading all scorers with 31 points, 9 rebounds and 3 assists. He put the team on his back tonight while Rodney Hood struggled to find his rhythm, which is what all-stars do. Joe Ingles had himself quite a game as well, putting up 13/2/2, shooting 3-6 from deep, including a three-pointer that put the Jazz ahead for good. Watch out, Stephen Curry.
Los Angeles Lakers: Julius Randle
This kid can play. He performed well against one of the best frontcourts in the league, with 25 points, 12 rebounds and 2 assists.
Stabbed By A Nausicaan Picard:
Utah Jazz: Shelvin Mack
Shelvin has been heatchecking since the December 14th game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, in which he hit some shots, and he is decidedly not hot anymore. Tonight, he scored 9 points on 8 shots, and dished out only three assists. Moreover, he was a defensive liability, getting torched by the Lakers' speedy young backcourt to the point that Joe Ingles had to take over at times. I say that Joe should start.
Los Angeles Lakers: Nick Young
Ah, good ol' Swaggy P. He had a dud of a game for the LALcats, with 4 points on 8 shots, 2 rebounds, one assist and an individual +/- of -7.
The post-baby bump is real. Joseph Howarth Ingles has been insanely, unexpectedly good this season, and he bailed his team out tonight. As I said, it wasn't a particularly fun game to watch, but a win is a win.
Good teams find ways to win even when they aren't at their best, and the Jazz, despite everything they've been through, are a good team. I don't know if or when George Hill, Alec Burks and Dante Exum will return, but if/when they do they have the potential to help the Jazz make the jump to greatness.