Gameday Recap Lakers @ Jazz 04/04/23
The Lakers came into Tuesday night's game, winning their last 6 of 7 games garnering momentum headed into what looks like a playoff birth. Los Angeles will be without their starting point guard D'Angelo Russell who is out with foot soreness. When asked by the media about D'Lo, head coach Darvin Ham said the team is taking extra precautions regarding the guard. That is a decent strategy considering the Jazz would be without their best player Lauri Markkanen and breakout rookie center, Walker Kessler, who is done for the rest of the season, and reigning six-man of the year Jordan Clarkson.
The Jazz would start the game with two quick buckets jumping out to a 5-0 lead, but the Lakers would gather themselves and knock down six straight points. I tweeted hours before tip-off that I felt the Lakers would win this game, considering the Jazz are understaffed but being a Laker fan for my entire life, no matter what players Utah sends out there, the fans always bring the energy. I was proven right early listening to the crowd volume; you would think the Jazz were headed into the playoffs themselves. Without D'angelo, the ball-handling duties would fall on backup point guard Dennis Schroder who has played exceptionally well since the All-Star break.
The Lakers would start the game playing a more uptempo style than they are accustomed to. Midway through the first Quarter, Anthony Davis would make his first trip to the free throw line, sinking both, tying the game at 14 a piece. Los Angeles's record is 10-3 when AD scores over 35 points revealing the recipe for success if this team wants to make a deep playoff run. It will fall on the broad shoulders of Davis, who has so far answered the call in the second half of the season.
LeBron James, who has recently returned from a foot injury, would scratch late in the first on a running one-handed floater across the lane. News came out today that James is playing 10 pounds lighter than he was prior to the injury. The thinking behind the physical change was to "lighten the load" he was carrying. LeBron, who is in his 20th NBA season, was putting up godly numbers in pursuit of the scoring title. In my opinion, he was going a little too hard in the paint, pushing his body beyond its limit, and eventually catching a flat tire. The injury would seem to be a blessing in disguise. The Lakers would keep their head above water during James' absence, even creating some team chemistry without him. Austin Reaves, who was the main catalyst in James' absence, finished this first quarter with a beautiful drive to the lane finishing the layup and receiving a kind whistle sending him to the line where he would make the FT. After an uncharacteristic 8-second violation on LeBron, the Jazz missed an open three closing the quarter.
The Lakers would lead the Jazz after one quarter, 34-33
LeBron would open the second quarter with a drive on his former teammate Juan Tuscano Anderson finishing at the rim looking very bouncy. Utah guard Colin Sexton who is on his second team after being drafted by Cleveland, would guard Austin Reaves and show a bit of chippiness when called for a reach in a foul. AR-15 would follow that play up, tossing a beautiful Ally oop to James that got the crowd off their feet.
Sexton would answer with a midrange jumper that tied the game at 39-39.
LeBron would give us another highlight-worthy finish at the rim in transition. Taking a pass from Reaves and laying it in with the contact. James would walk towards the Laker bench and give his signature bicep flex forcing the Jazz to take a timeout 46-39 Lakers lead. LeBron would exit the game at the 7:00 mark; let's see if the Lakers stick to their minute restrictions for James with their newfound comfort in the standings.
Rui Hachimura would take a dime from Dennis Schroder and finish at the rim with force taking a lot of contact from Kelly Olynyk and completing the layup. Rui has found his place in the rotation late in the season using his midrange jumper, which I would consider his best offensive weapon. He seems to be playing with a lot more confidence and understanding his role on this team clearly.
Ex-Laker Talen Horton-Tucker would respond with some contact of his own. Operating on the left wing, he would have an undersized Schroder guarding him when THT sinks a beautiful fadeaway jumper keeping the Jazz close 56-50 LAL lead. After a layup in transition by Rui, Kelly Olynyk would sink a three-point basket after being left wide open on a blown coverage.
THT would explode to the rim, continuing his Laker revenge tour and giving him six points on the night. Not to be outdone, LeBron, who just checked back in, would connect with AD for the easy Allyoop 64-55 Lakers. The Duo would connect again on a SHOWTIME fastbreak seeing LBJ hit AD in transition on a look away time.
After a competitive first half in which the Lakers played a decent half of basketball, The Lakers lead 68-57 going into the second half.
Austin Reaves would pop the top off the second half. Hitting a three in semi-transition, assisted by LeBron. Horton-Tucker would continue to pressure the Laker defense again, getting to the free-throw line and making a pair. 65-71 Lakers. Jarred Vanderbilt and James would hit a pair of back-to-back threes, pushing the lead up to seven after THT would convert on a sweet reverse layup over his old pal James 77-70 LAL lead.
Austin Reaves would follow that up by converting an AND-1 layup receiving a sweet dime from Anthony Davis in a clogged paint. Shortly after this play, Austin Reaves exited the game with some injury but would return to the bench available to return. The Jazz would go on a 9-0 run bringing the Laker lead within three until Dennis Schroder would break the slump by hitting a jumper. Considering the Laker's injury luck this season, it would be a good idea to put this Utah team away earlier rather than later.
On a drive late in the third, Jazz guard Colin Sexton clipped Laker guard Dennis Schroder on the chin drawing blood from the mouth of Schroder. The officials missed the call but would give Dennis a "make-up" call on the other end sending him to the line for a pair of free throws, which he would split. LeBron would set Rui up for a jumper giving Rui his 17th point of the night, continuing an extremely efficient night. James would follow that up with his own score, giving him 21pts on the night headed into the fourth.
The Lakers lead 97-93 going into the 4th.
Los Angeles would start the fourth quarter with a LeBron turnover leading to an easy layup for Colin Sexton, bringing the game within two points. 97-95 LA. To compound his mistake, James would commit another turnover. Things could be better. Rui Hachimura would commit an offensive foul taken by JTA for the Jazz, and Utah would come down and tie the game at 97. Things would get worse before they would get better. After another turnover, the Jazz would come down against a flat-footed Laker defense, taking the lead 97-99, forcing coach Ham to call a timeout.
Dennis Schroder would come out and hit a much-needed three-point shot out of the timeout. They were giving Schroder 16PTs on the night. Austin Reaves would draw a charge on the defensive end, and the Lakers would come back down with a LeBron James two-handed flush. With the Momentum seemingly restored and the Lakers lead 104-101, Austin Reaves would draw another offensive foul on an out-of-control Colin Sexton. BIG PLAY!
Troy Brown Jr. would hit his first three of the night with the offense dead in the water, giving the Lakers a five-point cushion at the 5:30 mark.
After a pair of THT free throws, LeBron and AD would play a two-man pick and roll, leading to a dump pass to Davis for a trip to the line, where he hit both free throws. I see more and more "Magic" in Bron later in his career and even some of his mannerisms. We all saw him flirt with the sky hook on his quest to dethrone "The Captain," but tonight, with the game ready for the taking, he busted out the "Baby Skyhook," soaring above his defender and gently dropping the ball through the net. (chefs kiss). With the Jazz reeling, the Lakers would move the ball with Golden State pension finding Austin Reaves in the corner for three that would seemingly end the game but some late-game heroics by another tremendous white hype Kelly Olynik banking in a three. Then Anthony Davis came down and, missing the dagger floater, the Jazz would get to the line with a chance to tie the game with under 12 seconds remaining and setting the table for a possible game-winner for the Lakers. LeBron would miss a layup at the rim, and we are headed to OVERTIME!
124-124 game is tied headed into OT.
Kelly Olynyk would take the opening tip of overtime and somehow unguarded stroll down the lane until Dennis Schroder decided to give him a layup and a foul. 127-124 Jazz. LeBron would come down with a deep three-point shot tying the game. After a missed Utah shot, Anthony Davis would take it strong to the rim and earn a trip to the charity stripe, missing both. LBJ and THT would trade a few buckets at the rim 129-129. Olynyk would hit another deep three over LeBron, igniting a frenzied Utah crowd. Reaves would hit a jumper bringing it back within one point. Then Kelly Olynyk would commit an illegal screen giving the Lakers a chance to retake the lead after a missed LeBron three. AD would soar for the board and find a diving James who almost put Olynyk on a poster instead, earning a trip to the line by hitting both free throws. The Lakers lead 133-132.
LeBron (37 PTS) game-winning bucket 🤯— NBA (@NBA) April 5, 2023
Lakers win the OT THRILLER in Utah pic.twitter.com/NVT1ypRddO
On a busted inbound play, Talen Horton-Tucker would make his way to the rim and get fouled. He would head to the line and split the free throws—tied game. Out of the time out, LeBron would take the ball and iso his defender spinning his way to a layup at the rim. The Jazz chose not to take a time-out and would play for the tie or lead. THT would try his best at Kobe's impersonation shooting for the tie on an off-balanced fadeaway, thankfully missing and ending a game that should have been over 20 minutes ago.
The Lakers defeat the Utah Jazz 135-133
- I knew this would be a challenging game for the Lakers, who historically have a tough time in Utah, compounded by the fact it's hard not to play down to your competition when the other team's best players are out.
- AD and LeBron did what they had to do to get a win and, well, take it. Davis put up 21PTS, 14REB 6AST, and 2BLK. The team could have avoided Overtime if he had hit his free throws. LeBron had 37PTS 5REB 6AST. A monster game, but he had to put out way more energy than the coaching staff would have liked. Let's see if he plays back-to-back tomorrow.
- This Jazz team has been fun to watch all year. They started the season off very hot, and even though they have no real reason to win games, they compete at a high level. I have always enjoyed Kelly Olynyk and how he plays the game. Some consider him a dirty player, but that's alright in my book.
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