by Alma Bean
Feature Image: Photo by Marcio Jose Sanchez of AP.
The Utah Jazz (6-3) takes on the surging Los Angeles Lakers (2-5) in the City of Angels in an early season matchup.
After not participating in their morning practice, LeBron James and Anthony Davis were in the starting lineup to face Utah. Simone Fontecchio, who has been out due to health and safety protocols, returned to the team ahead of facing Los Angeles.
Utah, Knows How to Party
This matchup started off hot for both teams. Los Angeles and Utah both shooting over 50% from the field (Los Angeles: 13/24-54.2%, Utah: 17/26- 65.4%) gave the crowd a breath of life. Since Los Angeles has been struggling from beyond the perimeter, shooting 26.7% for the season, watching shots fall easily was a shot of relief. Unfortunately for Los Angeles, Utah was able to match their performance on nearly every possession. After a lackluster return on Wednesday, Walker Kessler showed his value quickly in the first quarter. One play that turned a bunch of heads in Kessler blocking Davis with easy as he drove towards the hoop. With a tremendous amount of fighting on both ends of the court, Utah finished the quarter with a lead of 40-34.
(2) Utah Jazz on Twitter: “🚫 sir, this is a no-drive zone 🚫 #TakeNote | @WalkerKessler13 https://t.co/ckRQxr8V26” / Twitter
The second quarter continued to trend in Utah’s favor. With three players on their roster having double figures in points and Mike Conley facilitating the ball with ease, it’s no surprise that Utah finished the quarter shooting over 50%. Though Los Angeles matched Utah in shots made within the perimeter at nine, their three-point shoot began to haunt them, shooting 2/7 (28.6%) for the quarter. Los Angeles relied on Davis, who had 20 points at the half while James struggled in the first half, going 3/10 (30%) for 6 points. Utah was able to go into the locker room with their chest up high as they led 75-62.
(1) Utah Jazz on Twitter: “🔥 🔥 ( ﾉ･o･ )ﾉ #TakeNote https://t.co/snNrFC9I9Q” / Twitter
The Road Can Be a Scary Place
Los Angeles came out of the half with something to prove. They became more defensively sound, only committing one foul for the third quarter. Los Angeles became more methodical with their shot selections, shooting 11/18 (61.1%) from the field and 9/9 (100%) from the free throw line. Utah seemed a little overconfident with their return as they shot 4/13 (30.8%) from beyond the arc. Los Angeles managed to get within striking distance, but a quick burst of energy from Nickeil Alexander-Walker to end the quarter secure a small lead of 100-95 going into the final quarter.
(1) Utah Jazz on Twitter: “Vando feeds the Bull 😈 #TakeNote https://t.co/54UcnbWk2I” / Twitter
With Los Angeles on Utah’s tail, Utah continued to look nervous starting the fourth quarter. Struggling to start a run with the bench unit, the starters were brought back in near the mid-way point of the quarter. Both teams continued to fight until Los Angeles threw the white flag with 1:17 left in the game down by eight points after an emphatic dunk by Clarkson. Utah went on to win their seventh game of the young season 130-116.
Though he struggled in the first half, James was just two assists shy of a triple-double (17/10/8) while Russell Westbrook led Los Angeles in scoring with 26 points. Lauri Markkanen continued to be a savior for Utah as he led the team in scoring and rebounds (27/13/4), this now marks Markkanen’s fifth double-double. Utah stands at 6-0 when Markkanen leads the team in scoring and rebounds. Conley earned his second double-double on the season (15/2/10) as the offense looks to center on his passing ability rather than his off-ball movement.
(1) Utah Jazz on Twitter: “this dunk, just on repeat for the rest of the night 🔁 #TakeNote https://t.co/z0XAh7bALk” / Twitter
The Utah Jazz will continue their stay in Los Angeles as they wait to face the Clippers on Sunday. With another late tip-off being at 8:00 PM MST on AT&T SportsNet, make sure you mark your calendars for another late night of basketball.