Considering that the Utah Jazz were missing their three best players and a fourth key member of their rotation on Saturday, maybe it shouldn’t be surprising that the Lakers were able to beat them in the first matchup of a two-game stretch for both teams in Los Angeles. But all the Lakers can do is take care of business against the opponents in front of them, and in that very basic sense, they delivered in a 127-115 victory over the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference without their own two best players.
The Jazz certainly made things interesting, however, going on a 15-4 run to start the fourth quarter and holding the Lakers scoreless for nearly seven straight minutes in the frame to take their first lead of the second half. But Dennis Schröder, playing through an infected foot that’s left him a game-time decision for the last two games, came through when the Lakers needed him to, hitting three indescribably huge buckets down the stretch while dueling with Jordan Clarkson to send this one to overtime.
Schröder again led the way in OT, getting into the lane to set up shooters and dunks from Andre Drummond. He’s not a perfect player, but the Lakers are really, really lucky to have him during this stretch with so many key players missing or hampered by injuries. He finished the game with 25 points, 8 assists and just 2 turnovers to go with 2 blocks and 1 steal, and the Lakers desperately needed every drop of production he could give them to avoid what would have been a really disappointing loss.
Drummond also deserves some credit for this victory. He was played off the floor as the Jazz went small during their fourth-quarter barrage, but he was genuinely helpful for the first three quarters as the Lakers built their lead, and came up with a few key rebounds and buckets in extra time when he got back in. He ended the afternoon with 27 points, 8 rebounds, 2 steals and 1 block in a mostly dominant performance. His 3 assists also undersell how critical his passing out of the post has been when he plays for the Lakers. Drummond sets up those sequences when the ball pings around the perimeter for open triples, and he’s a huge asset for them right now.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was additionally on fire for most of the game. He clanked a few threes in the fourth, but hit two driving layups in overtime (including one And-1) and finished with 25 points and five triples while moving up the team’s all-time leaderboards before having to leave overtime with leg cramps after a gutty performance.
* @kylekuzma just passed Rick Fox for 7th on the Lakers all-time 3-point field goals list, with his 481st make.— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) April 17, 2021
Up next is Eddie Jones (483), whom Kuzma's teammate @CaldwellPope just passed to reach 491 with his 5 makes tonight. He’s now 5th.
This victory moves the Lakers to 35-22 on the season as they stay afloat as the fifth seed in the Western Conference bracket. They’ll have Sunday off before facing the Jazz again on Monday, and it’s at least possible (albeit unlikely) that they’ll have Anthony Davis back for that one. We’ll see what players the Jazz get back by then, but the Lakers will take this one. Even if the ending was hideous and they ended up playing a bit more basketball than they needed to, a win is a win during this stretch.