Five takeaways from the Lakers’ 112-97 loss to the Utah Jazz
Two games remain in the Lakers’ schedule, both against teams for whom neither game has any consequence.
The Houston Rockets have already clinched homecourt throughout the playoffs. The Clippers have already been knocked out of the playoffs. So we’re going to be struggling to find meaningful takeaways in these games, especially given the fact that there’s a decent chance Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram don’t play in them.
In the meantime, here are five from Sunday night’s 112-97 loss to the Utah Jazz.
1. Josh Hart has come a long way from the start of the season, during which he was sent to the South Bay Lakers for a stint. Hart’s challenge was making himself a multidimensional player and he’s done a lot better with that lately. I wrote most of my game story about that.
2. When Hart was asked what he’s learned from guarding some of the league’s elite players, he replied with a halfway joke. “I can’t touch ‘em,” he said, slyly. He went on to give some more details about what he’s learned, but in that answer he touched on something on which Lakers coach Luke Walton has been working with him. Hart is fouling less than he did early on. “He has a defensive understanding of how to guard ballhandlers and forcing them over the screen and using his physicality without picking up as many fouls as he’s picked up this year when he’s played,” Walton said. “All these things are things he’ll keep getting better at.”
3. The Lakers’ second unit was instrumental in getting the Lakers back into the game for a time. Tyler Ennis, who had a career high in scoring with 22 points, was their catalyst. “I just seen their energy was low,” Ennis said. “Obviously we were shorthanded. It’s hard to come out sometimes guys that are starting and get off to a good start. I just tried to come in and give us a little spark. I thought we did a good job of that. Second unit played pretty well in the first half.”
4. The game was played at an unusual hour. Lakers home games on Sundays are typically at 6:30 p.m. while their weekday home games start at 7:30 p.m. This Sunday’s game started at 3 p.m. as part of a league initiative to make the games more accessible to international audiences. A 3 p.m. game in California starts at 7 p.m. in Buenos Aires, 11 p.m. in Abuja, Nigeria, midnight in Paris, 2 a.m. in Dubai, 3:30 a.m. in New Delhi, 6 a.m. in Beijing and 8 a.m. in Sydney, Australia.
5. The players who are still available for the Lakers are giving forth solid effort. “It’s hard, obviously,” Lakers forward Julius Randle said. “… But guys are … trying to step up and do the right thing. Effort’s been there, it’s just been tough.” A lot of the players who have seen heavy minutes lately are those who have spent a lot of time with the South Bay Lakers. With the team’s developmental affiliate out of the G-League playoffs, they have more time to spend on the NBA level.
Follow Tania Ganguli on Twitter @taniaganguli
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