Shorthanded Lakers Fall to Hot Shooting Jazz

Without LeBron James (foot), Lonnie Walker (non-COVID illness), and Patrick Beverley (non-COVID illness), and unable to contain Utah’s explosive offense for the 2nd time in four days, the Lakers fell to the Jazz 139-116 on Monday night, losing their third straight game and dropping their record to 2-8 on the season. 

Though the final score doesn’t necessarily reflect it, Lakers had an excellent scoring 1st half of their own, putting up 71 points to hang tight with the Jazz and only trail by 5 points at intermission. 

Anthony Davis had a particularly dominant 1st half, scoring 19 points with relative ease against an overmatched Jazz defense. Flowing out of handoff and screen actions into post ups on the left block, Davis showed off his full arsenal of jumpers, power back-downs into jump hooks, and quick drives for strong finishes at the basket. Davis seemed unfazed against whatever defense the Jazz threw at him and looked eager to keep his team close.

Not to be outdone, Russell Westbrook nearly kept pace with AD’s 1st half scoring, putting up 18 points of his own in the half. Showing good diversity in his offensive attack, Russ mixed in playmaking for his teammates (4 assists in the half) as a companion to long jumpers and ferocious drives to the rim, keeping the Jazz on their heels in the process. 

In the 2nd half, however, the game turned towards the Jazz. The success both AD and Russ had in the first two periods could not be replicated, and after combining for 37 first half points, the Jazz were able to limit them to 14 in the 2nd half. Meanwhile the Jazz were able to keep their rhythm going, using a strong 3rd quarter of shot making and improved defense to stretch their lead to 17 heading into the 4th.  

Lauri Markkanen was particularly effective in the quarter, knocking down 6 of his 9 shots from the floor for 13 points. After the game, AD shouldered the blame for Markkanen and the Jazz’s hot start in the 2nd half, specifically highlighting a couple of drives he allowed from the Jazz big man. That scoring outburst combined with timely shot making from Mike Conley and Colin Sexton to create all the separation the Jazz would need to keep the Lakers at bay the rest of the game. 

While this loss is certainly disappointing, Coach Ham remained intent to not let his team’s mentality slip too low. Noting that he “didn’t come here to lose”, Ham believes his team is “going to turn the corner” and this early part of the season and the struggles they’re experiencing are a part of the process. 

That said, Ham was also very clear that he knows where his team can improve, citing transition defense, rebounding, and contesting shots without fouling. This game was also a good example of how even though they have shown flashes of how good they can be, finding ways to carry forward that success and sustain it through the entirety of the game is also an area of growth. 

The Lakers return to action on Wednesday where they’ll face off against the Clippers.