Salt Lake City, UT– The Utah Jazz went over .500 for the first time since November of last year behind 33 points and nine assists from Donovan Mitchell. The Jazz defeated the Los Angeles Lakers, 113-95.
Utah set the tone early in the ball game on both ends of the floor. While the Lakers came out rather lackadaisical in the first half, the Jazz did an outstanding job of using the pick and roll and penetrating to get good looks at the basket and get themselves going early.
Utah also was active on the glass, finishing the game with 77 total rebounds (15 offensive) to give themselves the advantage. Defensively, the Jazz was great as well, which contributed to a well-rounded game for the team.
The Jazz came into this game as one of the better defensive teams this season and it definitely showed throughout the game. Their length and athleticism propelled them to make things extremely difficult for Los Angeles as they created steals, blocked shots and didn’t allow the Lakers to get in any time of rhythm or flow.
The exceptional display of defense, led by Rudy Gobert, who finished with 12 points, 18 rebounds and two blocks, held the Lakers to 32 percent shooting from the field in the half and their lowest scoring second quarter of the season (15 points). However, that wasn’t even the half of the Los Angeles’ problems in that first half.
With Utah running an eight man rotation while their key guards are out in Ricky Rubio and Dante Exum, it was up to Mitchell to run the point guard position for the Jazz. It was safe to say that it wasn’t much of a problem for the second-year man, though.
Analyst want to dub him as “The Don,” but Mitchell played like “The Godfather” in the ballgame. He had a full stat line by the end of the first half with 19 points, three rebounds, four assist, two blocks, and a poster dunk that will be on sale and on every Jazz fan’s wall next week.
With the lack of depth for Utah being so tight due to injuries, Utah needed more than just Mitchell contributing . As the game continued, other Jazz players did step up — especially the other starters. Utah’s starters all scored at least 12 points, and outscored the Lakers’ starters, 91-43.
Behind the scoring outburst of Mitchell, the Jazz went into the halftime break up 62-41.
The Lakers would shake their strategy up a little bit in the second half, going to a smaller lineup to take Gobert out of the game and open the lane for their scorers to create. They cut the lead down to 10 thanks in large part to Michael Beasley, who finished with 17 points.
However, as the adage goes, “The thing that makes you smile, will also make you cry,” and Friday night Los Angeles certainly cried. After the spectacular shooting performance the Lakers put on against the Pistons, the their shooting woes continued for the duration of the game as Los Angeles shot 35 percent for the game. In addition, Kyle Kuzma probably cried most of those tears as he was held to 11 points after notching his career-high 41 against the Pistons.
Shooting wasn’t the only struggle for the Lakers though. Foul trouble also was an issue for the purple and gold. The Jazz went to the line a grand total of 32 times allowing the Jazz to prevent the Lakers from cutting the lead to single digits.
Playing solid defense, rebounding, and the outstanding play from Mitchell allowed the Jazz to run away with a convincing 113-95 victory.
The Lakers will look to get back to their winning ways as they face the Cavaliers on Jan. 13. On the opposing end, the Jazz will take on the Bulls on Jan. 12.