After snapping a seven-game losing streak on Sunday, the Los Angeles Lakers looked to build on their performance and get their first road win of the calendar year. They traveled to Utah to take on the ever-improving Jazz.
The Lakers backcourt was definitely dealt a blow as Ronnie Price was lost for the season with elbow surgery. Nick Young would miss the game with knee soreness leaving the Lakers very thin at both guard spots. The Jazz are led by all-around threat Gordon Hayward. Center Rudy Gobert is also one of the best rim protectors in the NBA.
The Lakers came into the game at 14-41 while the Jazz came in at 21-34, having won four of their last five including back-to-back victories over Portland and San Antonio.
The Jazz came out quickly as Dante Exum hit Rudy Gobert for an easy layup and Gordon Hayward got an easy layup. The Lakers were able to match behind jumpers from Sacre and Clarkson. The Lakers struggled to contain Hayward as his eight early points gave the Jazz a five-point lead. A jumper from Clarkson kept the Lakers within three midway through the quarter. Clarkson would hit another tough fadeaway but Gobert got an easy layup on the other end to keep the Lakers at bay. A couple of Boozer free throws cut the deficit to one, but the Jazz responded with a 9-0 run behind Gobert and Favors to push the lead to double-digits. The Lakers would battle back and a Wesley Johnson three would get them back within five. A layup Elijah Millsap layup and a free throw from Trevor Booker put Utah back up eight, 29-21, at the end of the first quarter.
Both teams got off to solid starts in the second as Ellington and Booker traded baskets. Lin hit a jumper and a beautiful assist to Ed Davis, but Rodney Hood matched responded with a corner three to keep the Jazz ahead by seven. Hood hit a wide open three to put the Jazz back ahead by 11, but Clarkson matched with a three of his own. An easy Favors hook was matched by a Johnson jumper as the Lakers remained behind by eight midway through the quarter. Clarkson continued his great first half with a steal and dunk over Exum for a three-point play. An Ellington runner cut the lead to three but a Trey Burke three kept the Jazz up six. Boozer hit a jumper to cut the lead to four and a wild play on the other end resulted in a Hayward dunk. A transition layup for Boozer was matched with another Hayward basket as the Jazz lead 51-45 at halftime.
Turnovers plagued the beginning of the quarter as the Lakers turned it over on their first three possessions while the Jazz turned it over on their first two. Utah finally got the scoring started with a layup and a jumper. Boozer got a jumper to get the scoring started for the Lakers. Another Favors basket put Utah ahead by 10, but back-to-back baskets from Clarkson and Boozer cut that lead to five. The Lakers continued the run as Boozer scored past Gobert on a beautiful spin move and then got a steal and hit Clarkson for a dunk to bring the Lakers within two. A review during a timeout got rid of a Lakers basket, but a block by Kelly led to an Ellington jumper to put the Lakers back to within a basket. Clarkson tried and failed to dunk on Favors and Gobert, but the ball bounced back to him which led to a layup. A free throw from Boozer tied the game. The teams continued to trade baskets down the stretch as Gobert got a tip-in and Hill made a mid-range jumper. Millsap took over down the stretch with eight points and a three from Rodney Hood at the buzzer gave the Jazz a nine point lead at the end of the quarter.
Gobert got an easy lane for a dunk to start the quarter and Millsap continued his career night with a layup. The Lakers finally got going with a Hill jumper and an Ellington three-point play. Lin picked Burke clean for an easy layup but the Lakers remained behind by nine. A nice Lin drive in transition and an Ellington floater cut the Jazz lead to five as the Lakers fought to stay in the game. A tough drive and finish from Hayward kept the Lakers at bay. Ellington hit Davis for a nice layup to keep the Lakers within six midway through the quarter. Davis continued to play well finishing in the post with a layup and tipping in Lin’s miss on the next possession to bring the Lakers within two. Davis had a block that led to a dunk for Hill in transition as the Lakers tied the game with four minutes left. Another Davis block led to a Clarkson layup as the Lakers took their first lead of the game. A ridiculous Hill bank shot put the Lakers up three, but Favors matched him on the other end to keep the Jazz within a point. Clarkson hit a clutch jumper to set a new career high with 22 points and Gobert split a pair of free throws to keep the Jazz down two. Clarkson missed a jumper and Hayward had a chance to give the Jazz the lead, but missed a three. Two Hill free throws put the Lakers up four, but Hayward made two of his own to keep the Jazz within two. Ellington hit two clutch free throws to put the Lakers up four with less than 10 seconds remaining. Hayward air-balled a three, but Favors got a layup and was fouled. Favors tried to miss the free throw but it went in anyway. Utah fouled Sacre and he made both free throws and Hayward missed a shot at the buzzer to seal the win.