The Los Angeles Lakers try to get back on track tonight after losing back-to-back nail-biters, as they welcome the Utah Jazz into Staples Center. Lou Williams put the team on his back last game with a career-high 44 points against the Thunder, while tying Kobe’s record for points in the fourth quarter with 23.
Meanwhile, the Utah Jazz are coming off a solid victory over the Miami Heat in which they were led by Gordon Hayward’s 34 points. The Lakers have just 10 bodies in the lineup for tonight. With Kobe, Brandon Bass, and D’Angelo Russell out tonight along with Ryan Kelly and Tariq Black playing with the D-Fenders, they will need contributions from everyone on the team.
Lou Williams picked up where he left off last game with his patented leaning jumper to scratch first for the Lakers. Raul Neto answered back for the Jazz with a jumper of his own. After Williams’ shot, the Lakers missed their next eight shots, while Gordon Hayward made quick work of the Lakers defense with two consecutive buckets to take an 8-2 lead. Jordan Clarkson finally put an end to the five-minute drought without a field goal with a step-back jumper, followed by a three-pointer to cut the lead 9-7. Both teams then went ice cold, going three minutes without a field goal before Robert Sacre tied the game 9-9 with his jumper from just inside the arc. Nick Young came off the bench looking to make an immediate impact by giving the Lakers an 11-9 lead with his first shot of the game. The lead was short-lived as the Jazz took the lead back with a three from Trey Burke to take a 15-14 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Jazz struck first this time with a jumper from Jeff Withey to take a 17-14 lead. Following the and-one by Rodney Hood, Young answered back with a step-back of his own. Julius Randle looked to get out of his scoring funk with a jump shot to cut the Jazz lead, 22-18. The Lakers began to get a bit sloppy as they started sending the Utah to the line as they quickly started to get some momentum on offense. It wasn’t long before the Lakers started to fall behind after an 11-3 run by the Jazz put them up 33-21 midway through the quarter. After a driving finish by Randle, the Lakers found themselves in yet another scoreless drought, while the Jazz continued to get high-percentage shots in the paint to extend to a 40-23 lead. Clarkson finally ended the drought with a nice finish off the glass to cut the lead to 15. The Lakers offensive woes continued while the Jazz remained in sync to end the half ahead 43-30. The Lakers 30 points in the first half was the lowest they’ve scored in a half this season.
Just like the start of the game, Lou opened up the second half for the Lakers with a three-pointer. However, Hayward answered back with a three of his own to maintain a 48-37 lead. Both teams started off hot offensively as they traded buckets, capped by a jumper from Williams to cut into the 53-39 lead. The Lakers finally got some momentum going with an alley-oop from Lou to Larry Nance to decrease the Jazz lead to 11. Hood hit a jumper to give him ten points on the game, while the Lakers answered back with consecutive buckets from Roy Hibbert to bring the score to 57-47. As hot as both teams started, they went cold once again as neither side hit a field goal for three minutes before Trevor Booker made a basket at the rim to maintain a 59-47 lead. Randle ended the quarter with a reverse lay-up and the and-one finish, however, the Jazz were able to maintain their lead, 61-50.
Nick Young got the first bucket of the quarter with a turnaround jumper that hit nothing but net. Hood came back with a jumper of his own to retain a 63-52 lead. Randle then electrified the crowd with a dunk coming after stealing the ball from Jazz big man Rudy Gobert to cut the lead to nine. Although the offense continued to struggle, the defense stepped up by forcing turnovers and making Utah take bad shots. Nance finally made them pay with a floating hook shot for his second bucket of the game, and the score now 67-58. Suddenly the tide turned yet again as both teams started to get their offense going, highlighted by two lay-ups in a row by Williams to shorten the lead back to 11 with four minutes left in the game. However, the Jazz remained resilient by answering the Lakers shot-for-shot down the stretch. The Lakers cut the lead to eight after a monster dunk from Randle, but Hayward hit a tough fadeaway to keep the Jazz lead at double-digits. Another tough shot by Hayward and a dunk by Gobert iced the game for good. Free throws from Williams and Nance ensured the Lakers wouldn’t set a franchise low for points in a game, but that was the only positive. The Lakers would drop their fourth straight game, 86-74.