Not even the newfound superstar of the Lakers, Russell Westbrook Off The Bench, could slow down perhaps the most surprising team of the young season in the Utah Jazz on Friday. Westbrook tallied a game-high 28 points off the bench in his most prolific scoring performance as a reserve of his career, but Utah absolutely scorched the nets all night long to win going away, 130-116.
LeBron James struggled on the night, finishing with 17 points on 7-19 shooting with 11 rebounds and eight assists. Anthony Davis was dominant in the first half with 20 points, but faded in the final two frames, only scoring two points.
The Jazz were absolutely sizzling from the field in the first half, earmarked by a 40-point first quarter. They barely slowed down in the second period, eventually putting up 75 points through the opening two frames.
Utah shot 60.8% from the field and made nine of their 16 3-point attempts despite what was, for a good amount of those looks, decent defense from the Lakers. The purple and gold were more than solid themselves offensively, connecting on 54.5% of their attempts overall and 43.8% of their 3-pointers, allowing them to stay just within reach at the half.
The third quarter looked like it would be much of the same as the lead jumped to as high as 16 points at 85-69 following a Kelly Olynyk make. The Lakers responded with an 11-3 run punctuated by a LeBron James monster dunk to cut it down to 88-80. After trading baskets, the Lakers pieced together another run, this one led by Russ, to pull within two at 95-93.
That would be as close as the Lakers would get, though, as the Jazz added a bit of breathing room to close the third and quickly opened up a double-digit lead once against in the fourth quarter. Their hot shooting never slowed down, the Lakers were on the bad side of some bad bounces and a last-gasp run never came.
Well, this Russ campaign for Sixth Man of the Year is actually growing more realistic with each passing game, huh? It’s hard to overstate how impressive it is that Russ has accepted and embraced the role to the degree that he has, but Friday was the latest and brightest example of it.
In a hilarious twist of irony, it was LeBron who struggled for most of the night and held back the Lakers. The big caveat there is he’s still battling both left foot soreness and the flu he’s had since last weekend.
It was a rough week for the King, but hopefully he can take some meds, sleep off the next couple of days and get right for the Lakers game on Sunday against the Cavaliers with an early tip-off of 12:30 p.m.