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Jazz rookie Lyles finishes summer league on a strong note in win over Lakers

LAS VEGAS — Trey Lyles saved his best for last.

All the better for the Utah Jazz that the rookie’s strongest all-around game of this summer league season came against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Lyles, who’s struggled offensively since joining the Jazz after a contract delay, got his outside shooting going in Friday’s 84-78 victory over the Lakers.

The No. 12 pick hit four of seven 3-pointers, scored 20 points and grabbed nine rebounds as Utah sent a large contingent of loud LA fans home disappointed from UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center.

“I went out there and played hard and (showed) somewhat what I was capable of doing,” Lyles said. “We got the win, so that’s all that I care about.”

Utah’s other draft selection, second-round pick Olivier Hanlan, also had a nice game Friday, scoring nine points with six rebounds, three assists and one quote that will surely make Jazz fans happy.

"There were a lot of Laker fans here, so that was good having that last win,” Hanlan said. “Coach did a good job … knowing that a lot of Lakers fans were going to be here, (telling us) if we could end it out on a good note, that would be a great way to finish the summer league.”

Point guard Bryce Cotton and Idaho Stampede guard Jared Cunningham each had a strong finale, scoring 15 points apiece.

The positive result, which Utah managed despite shooting just 33.3 percent from the field, helped the Jazz finish with a 2-3 mark in Las Vegas. Overall, Utah went 5-3 in action the past two weeks, including the three-game sweep in their own summer league.

Point guard D’Angelo Russell, the second overall pick in this year's draft, topped the Lakers (1-4) with 21 points. Returning LA players Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle scored 12 and 11, respectively.

Lyles came into this game shooting just 28.9 percent overall and 2-for-15 from 3-point range during his Las Vegas stint. Part of the Jazz game plan, assistant Mike Wells explained, was to try to get the late lottery pick into a good rhythm in his final summer performance.

Neither team shot well to begin with, but Lyles jumpstarted his game by swishing two 3-pointers from up top. He scored 15 points by halftime and had 20 through three quarters to help the Jazz take control.

“That felt good,” Lyles said of hitting the back-to-back treys. “I just had to stay confident and continue to shoot. When shooters have a slump, you just have to shoot out of it and that’s what I tried to do.”

Just as his coaches wanted.

Wells wasn’t concerned with Lyles early in the game when his shot was off because he was taking good, open looks.

“At least he got some rhythm. … He kept shooting, which I wanted him to do, particularly in the last game,” Wells said. “I wanted to see if we could get him into a rhythm and get him the ball. I thought that got there. He hit two threes. He made some plays.”

Thanks to his final game, Lyles ended up hitting six of 22 3-pointers in his six summer league outings. He finished with a field-goal shooting percentage of 32.3 percent (20-62) while averaging 11.3 points.

Those numbers likely won’t earn him a lot of playing time behind fellow power forwards Derrick Favors and Trevor Booker, but he’s confident that his shooting will get better. It will need to because he said Jazz coach Quin Snyder told him his main role with the team will be as a stretch-four player who can pull defenses out of the paint and punish them when they collapse off of him.

Improving his accuracy won’t be Lyles’ only focus the rest of this offseason, though. He said he wants to work on everything.

“I’m not perfect in anything I do,” he said. “Everybody can see that from this showing this summer league. It’s everything I need to work on.”

Wells described Lyles as having an “up and down” summer league. The shooting, for the most part, was down, but the 6-foot-10 player from Kentucky showed he has a good overall feel for the game. He moves well. He can make plays for teammates. He can contribute even when his shot is off.

“I know he wanted to play better at times. I think it’s kind of getting adjusted to the NBA game,” Wells said. “Even though it’s summer league, it’s still a little bit faster, it’s a little bit longer and I think that today showed where he’s a little bit more comfortable. He did a few more things.”

Lyles credited coaches for remaining confident in him and for suggesting that he keep shooting. It finally paid off, too.

“He finally got into a little rhythm out there,” Well said. “Today was the first time I thought he settled in a little bit.”

Lyles is headed home to Indianapolis to continue working out, and he’s taking a good attitude out of his first summer league experience. He has a better understanding of the physicality and speed of the NBA, even if he still has a big learning curve ahead when the real season gets here this fall.

Lyles added that he now knows better what he has to do to stay on the court in a game, too.

“It was fun. I enjoyed it — my first time playing five on five for a while,” Lyles said of summer league. “I was happy to come out and kind of get somewhat acquainted with everyone on the team and the coaches. I think it was a positive outtake from the summer league.”

Lyles also earned the respect of his teammates.

“He started (shooting) kind of up and down,” Hanlan said. “But this last game, he was amazing in terms of hitting down open shots, finding teammates, coming off ball screens. For a big guy like that to be so versatile, it’s actually amazing. He showed a lot.”

The fact the did that in a win over the Lakers might endear him even more to Jazz fans.

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