With LeBron James being a late scratch with a left ankle peroneal tendinopathy injury, the Lakers had an uphill battle to climb in Utah. They fought valiantly but fell short, losing 132-125, earning them a second straight loss and a 19-21 record on the season.
D’Angelo Russell had another great game, leading the Lakers in points with 39 on 15-26 shooting. He also had eight assists.
Austin Reaves was scary efficient, going 7-8 from the field, good for 19 points, but he fouled out midway through the fourth crushing any hopes for a comeback win.
Rui Hachimura made his return to play and led the bench with 17 points on 50% shooting.
With James out and Hachimura back, the Lakers started with another new lineup featuring Anthony Davis, Cam Reddish, Taurean Prince, Russell and Austin Reaves.
In the opening frame, the combo of Reaves and Russell was on fire, scoring the team’s first 19 points. The duo both started together often last season but haven’t started together this year much.
Both offenses scored easily as defense seemed optional to start the game and the Lakers won the battle early, scoring 39 points in the opening quarter to hold an eight-point advantage.
Former Laker Jordan Clarkson got going for the Jazz and got them within a point midway through the second quarter, but thanks to Reaves staying a perfect 6-6 from the field and Prince converting on a pair of threes, the Lakers went to the break, up 67-64.
In the third, Russell took the momentum he built in the first half and exploded. He was knocking down threes, attacking the basket and jawing at the fans, silencing them with every made basket.
Despite Russell’s elite play, the Jazz got hot from three, converting on five shots from beyond the arch and took the lead back from Los Angeles. To add to the uhill battle Reddish was ruled out for the rest of the game with left knee soreness. This is the second game in a row left knee soreness has forced him to miss the rest of the second half.
With 12 minutes left, the Lakers had a five-point deficit to overcome. Hachimura gave the Lakers a boost scoring eight of the team’s first 10 points. Unfortunately, Reaves earned his sixth foul midway through the fourth taking him out of the game and making things even harder for the purple and gold.
Russell made a few more buckets, but the Lakers couldn't close the gap and the Jazz cruised to victory.
It was a loss, but there were some positives for Los Angeles.
The team gave a good effort and didn’t fold just because their star was out.
The pairing of Reaves and Russell shined and gave the team a spark that’s been absent offensively. Hachimura also made his return and gave the team a boost off the bench.
Hopefully, James can return for the next game and the Lakers can take the positive aspects from Saturday’s loss and turn it into a win on Monday versus the Oklahoma City Thunder.
You can follow Edwin on Twitter at @ECreates88.