Five takeaways from the Lakers' 80-73 loss to the Utah Jazz

Five things to take away from the Lakers' 80-73 loss to the Utah Jazz

The Lakers (17-50) fell to the Utah Jazz (31-37) on Thursday night. Here are five takeaways from their 80-73 defeat at Staples Center.

1. Once again, the Lakers lost a close game in the final moments.

"We just didn't make plays down the stretch in the last two minutes and 45 seconds," said Coach Byron Scott. "They tightened up a little bit defensively, we didn't move it as well as we could have, but it's the same story that I've been telling the guys. If we don't trust each other and move the ball, and do all the little things that we have to do, then it's a struggle."

The Lakers haven't suffered a double-digit defeat since Feb. 11 in Portland against the Blazers. That's 14 games with 10 relatively close losses (and four wins).

2. Utah's defensive pairing of Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors has been a problem for the rest of the league (especially since the late-February trade deadline). 

While the Lakers struggled for offense, rookie forward/center Tarik Black had a big game against the Jazz frontline, scoring 13 points on six-of-12 shooting with 10 rebounds.

"I thought he played great tonight," said Scott. "If he can continue to bring the energy like he does every night, he'll be successful."

Gobert finished with just three points and seven rebounds in 36 minutes.  Favors shot five for 15 for 14 points with seven rebounds.

3. Jeremy Lin almost missed Thursday's game after tweaking his back in practice.

Scott didn't expect him to play against the Jazz, but after an intense session with the trainers, Lin felt strong enough after pregame warm-ups to give it a go.

While Scott said he'll sit Lin out of Friday's practice, and suggested Sunday wasn't a sure thing -- Lin was adamant after the game that he would be available on Sunday when the Lakers host the Philadelphia 76ers.

Lin noted that he wasn't quite strong enough to finish plays the way he would have liked against the Jazz, but he didn't feel especially limited.

4. Ed Davis will have the second-highest field-goal percentage in the league, once he gets to the NBA minimum to qualify (currently 10 short). 

Clippers center DeAndre Jordan is tops at 70.8%, followed by Mason Plumlee (Brooklyn Nets) at 58.1%.

Davis made four of his five shots on Thursday, climbing to 60.9% (239 of 392) on the season.

5. The Lakers continue to hold the fourth-worst record in the NBA, important for positioning in the draft lottery. If the Lakers do not finish with a top-five selection, the pick will go to the Philadelphia 76ers (via the Phoenix Suns).

The Lakers are "behind" the Philadelphia 76ers (16-52), Minnesota Timberwolves (15-53) and Knicks (14-54). The closest two teams to the Lakers in the standings are the Orlando Magic (21-49) and Sacramento Kings (22-45). The Lakers are likely to hold onto at least the fourth position in the lottery, with 15 to play.

The team still plays the Wolves and Sixers twice each. The Knicks and Sixers still play each other twice as well. The only way the Lakers can 100% guarantee themselves a top-five pick is to finish with the first or second-worst record in the NBA.  At third their odds are still high at 96.0%, but in their current fourth position, it's a less comfortable 83.8%.

Email Eric Pincus at eric.pincus@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.

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