The main culprit in the Lakers’ loss to Utah on Friday was their shooting — 35.9% (37 of 103) from the field. They had defensive lapses and other moments when they excelled defensively, but, ultimately, their poor shooting felled them.
This is far from the Lakers’ worst loss of the season, even though the Jazz were without their three point guards. But it’s one that might sting a little more ultimately because Utah is a team battling to get into the playoff race and now is one game behind the Lakers for eighth place. They’ll probably get there, just like last season.
Here are five takeaways from the Lakers’ 113-95 loss to the Jazz.
1. JaVale McGee was a victim of a particularly spectacular dunk by Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell, who was operating as Utah’s de facto point guard given all their injuries. McGee wasn’t worried about being on the wrong end of that highlight play, though. “I’m a shot blocker, so I don’t give a [expletive] about getting dunked on,” McGee said. “That ain’t [expletive] to me. Because when I block a dunk, you’re like, ‘Ohhhh!’ So it’s just like, the exact same reaction. I don’t care.” McGee noted that not only did he get a hand on the ball during the dunk, he blocked a shot shortly thereafter.
2. McGee took issue with the Lakers’ defensive scheme. “I just feel like some of the coverages that we were in should have been adjusted earlier,” McGee said. “But, we didn’t adjust and they kept succeeding at what they were doing.” He added, when asked about Mitchell: “They were setting good screens, and he was getting to the rim, and [Rudy] Gobert was dropping really hard, so it was kind of a conundrum being in between the Gobert lob or the Donovan Mitchell layup.”
3. Lonzo Ball got into some foul trouble, picking up his second and third fouls quickly in the second quarter, which left him with about four minutes of playing time in the second. When he returned in the third, he helped the Lakers go on a run that cut a 23-point deficit to 76-66. “Our small-ball unit was working,” Ball said. “We were switching everything, getting stops we needed and obviously we got out on the break and we had all those guards out there at the same time and it was working for us. But like I said, we didn’t do enough.”
4. The Lakers got a scare in the fourth quarter when Michael Beasley injured his right hand. X-Rays taken after the game were negative for fractures, but it’s unclear if he’ll miss time. If he does, the Lakers will miss him. Beasley offers an offensive spark whenever he’s playing, and both he and Lakers coach Luke Walton noted that he’s been getting closer to being in game shape after missing extended periods of time this season to be with his mother, who died in December.
5. There were a few theories as to why the Lakers’ transition game wasn’t as effective as usual. They only scored seven points on fastbreaks. It was more than Utah’s two, but well below their average of 19.8 per game, according to TeamRankings.com, which is second best in the NBA. Ingram thought Utah’s scoring ability was hampering the Lakers’ chances to run. Kyle Kuzma thought maybe it was the altitude. “Biggest thing once we get a stop, it was important to us to get up the floor and run,” Kuzma said. “Could have been the altitude a little bit, thought we were sluggish a little bit in our transition game. We’ve got to be better.”
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