With center Rudy Gobert and guard Mike Conley returning to their lineup, the Utah Jazz found ways to contain the Lakers on Monday night. It started when forward Royce O’Neal scored the first five points for the Jazz.
“I was just taking shots that was there,” he said. “Whether I was open, at the three, going to the basket, finishing myself or making plays for somebody else, it’s playing basketball.”
Utah scored 52 points in the paint and held Laker’s center Andre Drummond to eight points and eight rebounds.
“I think we started off really slow this game,” Drummond said. “Partially due to heavy legs from last game being [overtime] and those guys in coming in fresh, had a lot of energy.”
According to Gobert, Utah houses several players who can attack the paint and find their shooters when the defense collapse.
“I think for us, we’re just trying to move the ball in it obviously and attack the paint and see what they do defensively,” he said. “Early in the game, they were really helping a lot and giving up a lot of threes and I think in the second half, they decided to take away the threes.”
In the second half, guard Talen Horton-Tucker carried the Laker’s offense. He scored 11 of his 24 points in the third quarter. Although he needs to develop his defensive energy, Horton-Tucker has been improving, according to guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
“He’s been learning and applying it to games everyday,” Caldwell-Pope said. “Last year, we threw him in the fire and he showed what he can do and he’s just continued to grow since then.”
After the game, center Montrezl Harrell put up shots with a member of the coaching staff. His physical gameplay in the post was missed in this matchup as he only played 13 minutes. The Utah defense was to blame for his absence.
“Our ball handlers didn’t deliver the ball to him in a position where he can make something happen, credit Utah’s defense for the way they were playing,” Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said. “They really took our pick-and-roll game out of the game tonight and that’s what limited [Harrell].”
Although the Lakers had 10 steals against the Jazz, Utah shot at 57.3 percent from the field. Forward Anthony Davis is expected to reenter the lineup in the coming days. This will give the Lakers a boost of 22.5 points and 8.4 rebounds.
“I don’t think there’s too many concerns,” said Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma. “If there was, one is guys learning how to play with [Davis] more, understanding his game and where he likes his spots.”
The Lakers will travel to Texas to battle the Dallas Mavericks on April 22 at 6:30P.M.