by Daniel Olsen
The Jazz started out strong and ultimately continued that throughout the game. The final score at Staples Center in Los Angeles resulted in a 111-97 win over the Los Angeles Lakers.
What did the Jazz do well? Everything in the first quarter was done to perfection. They put up 29 points while holding the Lake Show to just 23 points. Conley hit a wide open three-point shot off some Gobert screen action to cap off an 8-0 run to start the game.
The Jazz had a Australian/French connection going on early as Ingles found Gobert for a dunk. That was arguably the best play of the first frame. While that was a good play, it was Clarkson who heated up near the end of the quarter. He scored all seven points in a span of 80 seconds before the buzzer sounded. He joined Royce O’Neale, who also had seven points earlier in the quarter.
The second quarter brought out the highlight reel. Gobert got another jam and shortly followed it up with a block party on Demarre Carroll. The Jazz at this point started to impose their will on the Lakers as they proved that the first quarter wasn’t a fluke. While they only had 23 points in this frame, they stifled their opponent on the other end. They allowed only 19 points in those 12 minutes of action. This gave the Jazz a comfortable 10 point lead at the break.
This showed how, although the Jazz played valiantly, they were outmatched on Saturday. With the first string in (except Donovan) the Jazz were locked in this game. The Lakers had the goal to live and die by the three. While they lived early on, eventually their chances died in this game as they missed shots. The Jazz only gave up tough shots. A team has to be scorching hot to beat the Jazz when they are on top of their game.
While the third quarter was a rough one for the Lakers, former Ute Kyle Kuzma seemed to be the hottest player in a gold jersey at one point. While he had a nice game, the Jazz were playing a pick-your-poison game. The poison that the Lakers repeatedly left open was Joe Ingles at the three-point line. That’s not a wise strategy at all. Ingles seemed to make every shot he took. He was basically taking their lunch money at that point. He had a team high five shots from downtown in the contest.
After having their most dominating quarter in the third frame, the Jazz entered the fourth quarter up 20 points. They kept adding fuel to the fire until they pulled their starters with five minutes to go. The bench didn’t contribute much, but they didn’t really need to. The Jazz employed mostly a seven man rotation with 15 points off the bench all coming from Georges Niang and Jarrell Brantley.
With the win, the Jazz move to 43-15 on the season and still have the top seed in the Western Conference. They win the regular season series 2-1 over the Los Angeles Lakers. This is a possible playoff preview, so it will be interesting to see what happens once all players are in action on both sides.
• Three Jazz players combined to score 62 points: Bogdanovic, Ingles and Clarkson.
• Clarkson hasn’t missed a three in the last 80 games. This puts him in sole possession of the seventh longest streak in NBA history.
• The Jazz have averaged 116.9 points-per-game this season. Since Mitchell’s injury, that dipped to 113 in this series against the Lakers with one of the games going to overtime.
• The Jazz held the Lakers to just 97 points. This is the third time this month they’ve held an opponent to under 100. The other two were the Magic and Thunder.
• O’Neale had a very underrated stat line of nine rebounds, five assists and 13 points on a perfect 5-5 from the field. With a +21 plus/minus, he was nearly perfect except for two turnovers.
• Conley joined Gobert in the double-double club on the night with 10 assists and 14 points. O’Neale, mentioned above, was just one rebound shy of making that three Jazz players in the club. That doesn’t happen often.
• The Jazz are 6-3 on the season over teams from California.
Featured image courtesy Jose Sanchez / Associated Press