The Los Angeles Lakers battled for 48 minutes against the Utah Jazz but felt the growing pains of being a young team in a 96-89 loss. It was a grueling game for both teams as neither side could find any flow to their offense, but the Lakers couldn’t outlast the Jazz in their home opener.
D’Angelo Russell couldn’t get his shot to drop no matter how open the look may have been. He ended the night making just three of his 14 attempts, struggling to find his stroke despite picking respectable spots to take on offense. Russell contributed with a handful of nice passes through the game, especially in the fourth quarter, but the Lakers needed his scoring in a night they shot 38 percent as a team.
Tarik Black played huge for the Lakers in the 10 minutes he logged, scoring eight points and grabbing seven rebounds. His hustle play in the third quarter was huge in stopping the bleeding when Utah started to pull away, but didn’t close the game out despite Julius Randle having severe defensive issues at the five.
George Hill put the game to sleep down the stretch, abusing the Lakers’ lack of interior defense with Randle playing a smallball center role. Hill scored a game-high 23 points as he rocked the Lakers to sleep. Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors dominated the interior, combining for 28 points and 22 rebounds.
It was a frustrating loss to watch if only because the kids battled their tails off despite the basketball gods stacking the deck against them on the road. Brandon Ingram left the game early with a sore right knee, great looks turned into defensive rebounds, the Jazz attempted 40 free-throws to the Lakers’ 21, and it just wasn’t in their cards to start the year 2-0.
We’ll see how they handle the raging stampede that is Russell Westbrook on Sunday.