The Utah Jazz (13-9) defeated the Los Angeles Lakers (10-13) by the close margin of 107-101. This game wasn’t ALWAYS this close, in fact after a 26-26 first quarter up until the middle of the fourth it was All That Jazz. The good guys won the second quarter by +4 and the third by +11. But LA clamped down on defense in the fourth, and their 27-18 final frame made what was looking like another road blowout win for Utah fade away.
Both teams were missing key players — the Lakers were without D’Angelo Russell, Nick Young, Larry Nance Jr., and Jose Calderon (from the top of my head). The Jazz were without Derrick Favors, George Hill, Alec Burks, and even their head coach! Quin Snyder sat this one out for illness and assistant coach Igor Kokoskov took the reigns for tonight. During the game play LA would end up losing bench dynamo Tarik Black as well. Like I said, both teams were missing key players. But you still have to play the games that are on the schedule.
And Utah came out playing like this was their game to win. They went up 8-1 early on and never looked back. LA started this game off with some awful line-ups, but things settled down for them after Luke Walton put in Jordan Clarkson and Lou Williams. Those two would finish this game with 55 points. Again, off the bench. Who’s the bench point guard right now? Shelvin Mack. Okay. Moving on . . .
A big plus for the Jazz had to be patience on offense and moving the ball around. While they did get sloppy with it in the second half, the Jazz still managed to finish this game with 26 assists and only 12 turn overs. Rounding that’s 2.5 to 1 assist to turn over ratio for the game. Not too shabby. The 26 assists on 38 made shots is also an indication of sharing the ball, and less iso-play. Or, more correctly for this game, iso-play that resulted in missed shots. (I see you Rodney Hood and Joe Johnson, and yes, again, Shelvin Mack for most of this game.)
LA didn’t really pressure the ball, and part of that could be having to go deep into their bench. They weren’t really in foul trouble either, no one had more than four. On the flip side, Dante Exum, who was playing GREAT in this game, somehow would end up playing only 18 minutes. In his time he scored 10 points and played great defense, and the team was up +8 with him on the floor. His 4/5 shooting included going 2/2 from deep. As a point of direct comparison, Mack scored 10 points off of 9 shots, played 30 minutes, let his man drop nearly 40 on him, and the team was -2 with him on the court. Mack did add 7 assists though, so that’s not horrible, it led the team on a night where lots of people were passing well (like Gordon Hayward, Rodney Hood, and Boris Diaw).
Utah controlled the pace of play (90.4 possessions in this game) despite losing the rebounding battle. LA had more rebounds overall (43-39), and worked the Jazz on the offensive glass (15-11). I’d say that a contributing factor to their defensive rebounding numbers happened to be that the Jazz went 18/29 from the free throw line (62.1%). That’s a lot of 2nd FT misses that turned into Lakers rebounds.
They really should have pushed the pace a little more. When LA did they were able to manage 18 fast break points, Utah only had 4. But again, you can’t really push the pace a lot when the only point guard on the team right now who can play is Marcelo Huertas — Luke Walton even started SF/SG rookie Brandon Ingram at point tonight. (His 1/6 shooting seems to have Dante’s defensive signature all over it, by the way.)
Taking the foot off the pedal in the fourth, and having two bench guards drop a Michael Jordan in MSG on you isn’t great. But this was a team win, possible because of Rudy Gobert’s continued dominance inside, and Gordon Hayward’s overall excellence. Rudy finished the game with 14 points, 17 rebounds, 5 blocks, 1 assist, and 1 steal. They even took rebounds and points away from him, he was so good.
Gordon didn’t have to score 30 tonight, but did have a great game with 23 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steaks, and 3 threes. He was +19 in +/-, tied for the Jazz best with Boris Diaw, who would finish with 12 points, 4 assists, 2 rebounds, and a perfect 5/5 and 2/2 shooting. His no-hesitation threes were a boon tonight.
Trey Lyles does check his open threes and elects to drive. Fans are yelling about that, but early last month he shot that with no hesitation and everyone yelled at him to put it on the floor and try for closer shots near the rim in order to get going first. It’s tough to be young, but he did score 9 points off the bench to go along with his 2 rebounds, 2 blocks, 1 assist, 1 steal, and 1 made three. He, along with Joe Johnson, Joe Ingles, Jeff Withey, and Shelvin do add something to this team. But I think we’d all love the team to be healthy and not have to go deep in the bench every night.
Solid win for the Jazz. They play the Phoenix Suns tomorrow at home.