by Alma Bean
Feature Image: Photo by Rick Bowmer of AP Photo.
The Utah Jazz (8-3) takes on the visiting Los Angeles Lakers (2-7) in a single-game homestand in Salt Lake City. This is the second time Utah has faced Los Angeles in the last three days. With the first match being in Utah’s favor in a 130-116 win, Utah is hoping that history will repeat itself Monday night. This time around, Utah is without big man Jarred Vanderbilt and Los Angeles was without LeBron James and Patrick Beverley.
Return of Hollywood
From the opening tip-off, it seemed like the gameplay resulted in some really good offense or some really bad defense. Players on both teams managed to make nearly all of their shots. Each team only missed six shots during the first quarter. Utah focused on their perimeter shooting for the quarter as they started the game shooting 8/12 (75%) from the perimeter. Jordan Clarkson was a major contributor as he scored 15 points in the quarter, including a buzzer-beater to end the quarter. Los Angeles having to play without James, Anthony Davis put the team on his back scoring 10 points in the first. Though both teams managed to over 80% from the field, Utah’s perimeter shooting gave them the lead 42-34 at the end of the quarter.
The second quarter felt like deja vu as both teams continued to score at will but at the hands of their bench units. Though the bench kept Utah in the game, the surprise of the half was that Lauri Markkanen didn’t receive his first points till midway through the second quarter. Being given the task of not only guarding Davis but being defended by one of the best post defenders in the league. Such a daunting task makes scoring a little difficult even for Markkanen. Though Los Angeles focused their offensive on Davis and Russell Westbrook, combining for 35 points, Utah went into the half with a 76-71 lead.
Can This Really Keep Going?
With scoring to continue in the second half, Kelly Olynyk with two free throws midway through the quarter put seven Utah players in double figures in scoring. Markkanen looked like he needed to make up for his lack of offense in the first half. In the third quarter alone, Markkanen scored 14 points. The inefficient shooting for Los Angeles began to haunt them in the second half as they finished the third quarter 10/24 (41.7%) to Utah’s 15/25 (60%) leading to a 115-98 lead.
As the game already had a high score so far, the fourth quarter came off slow. Both teams combined for a dreadful 2/15 (13.3) from beyond the perimeter. With no shots falling for Los Angeles, coach Darvin Hamm threw the white flag as he sent in his reserves such as Scottie Pippen Jr. with 6:29 left in the game. Utah had already started exercising different lineups with their bench a little earlier but followed suit near the 5:02 mark subbing in Simone Fontecchio, Leandro Bolmaro, and Udoka Azubuike. The remainder of the quarter consisted of unnecessary perimeter shots and an alley-oop from Nickeil Alexander-Walker to Azubuike as the Jazz earn their ninth win of the season 139-116.
The Utah Jazz (9-3) will travel to face the Atlanta Hawks (7-3) in the first of a three-game road trip on Wednesday as they try to hold on to the number one spot in the western conference.