Things will change in December, they said. The Los Angeles Lakers will come back down to earth on the road against legitimate playoff competition, they told us. Surely, the Lakers couldn’t win back-to-back games in two of the toughest arenas in the NBA, they assured themselves.
Simple question: How do those words taste? A little like crow?
Denver’s altitude has always given the NBA problems, and Utah’s hostile crowd can lead to some of the worst refereeing across the league. The Lakers, even while battling flu-like symptoms across the roster, took down both teams with relative ease, finishing the back-to-back with a 121-96 win in Utah.
Now, it should be pointed out that both Utah and Denver have started the season slower than most thought they would, but this is usually a brutal trip and neither of these wins ever really felt like they were in question.
Utah came out swinging in the first quarter, jumping out to a quick lead, but that was about all the fight they could muster, as the Lakers led pretty much the rest of the way.
The story in this one was how suffocating the Lakers’ defense appeared at times, and while that isn’t necessarily represented by Utah’s final score, when the Lakers really wanted to, their rotations looked about as clean as they’ll look all year.
Offensively, Utah just never offered up an answer for either Anthony Davis or LeBron James. Both guys finished with at least 20 points and were able to take most of the fourth quarter off. James was even able to give his shoes to a couple lucky fans before the game was officially over.
The Lakers’ bench was also very impressive Wednesday night. Before garbage time started, all of Kyle Kuzma, Dwight Howard, Alex Caruso, and Rajon Rondo boasted plus-minuses above +15. That’s pretty rare given the star power the Lakers have in the starting lineup.
The Lakers will wrap up this quick road trip in Portland on Friday night. Tip-off for that game will be 7:30 p.m. PST.