The Utah Jazz lost to the Los Angeles Lakers 106-101 on Wednesday night at Arena.

On the eve of the All-Star break the Jazz let a 14-point lead slip away and fell victim to a 33-point, eight rebound, six assist game from LeBron James.

High Notes

  • Aside from his 37-points, five assists and three rebounds on Wednesday, Donovan Mitchell now has strung together multiple games of really impressive defensive performances. I think that over the years we’ve seen flashes of the kind of on-ball defender that Mitchell can be and those flashes have been really great. What’s been missing is consistency of those performances and also the same attention to detail off-ball and in help situations. On the offensive end, Mitchell is becoming even better at reading the tone of the game and knowing the times that he needs to iso and get a bucket to change the tide rather than relying on that throughout a game or at times when it’s not the ideal attack. On this, the final game before the All-Star break, Mitchell looked every bit the part.
  • I already know what I’m about to say is not going to make Jazz fans happy, but it deserves saying. The Lakers honored LeBron James during the game on Wednesday for becoming the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, which is honestly such an incredible feat that it’s hard to wrap my mind around it. And then he played such a clutch game and had so many moments where he was in control of every single thing that happened on the floor. There’s just so many things that James does that seem to be completely based in the confidence that he has to do them. Tough 3-point shot with a hand in his face in the final minutes of a game — he looks completely calm and sure. Driving into traffic with a near guarantee that he’ll be fouled — never crosses his mind to not go up and finish at the rim. We’re talking about 18 years in the league and there are still a lot of nights where he’s easily the best player on the court.

“I call him the greatest player of all time. Some might dispute that, but I’m calling him that.” — Jazz head coach Quin Snyder

Low Notes

  • So, above I talk about the improvement that we’ve seen from Mitchell on defense, but we’ve seen a few times this season that Royce O’Neale has had trouble with some of the smaller, crafter guards in the NBA, as was the case early on against the Lakers with Russell Westbrook. I think that’s why when we talk about the Jazz’s needs on the perimeter, it’s difficult because they kind of need another smaller defender that can hang with players like Westbrook. At the same time though the Jazz are already a pretty small team and getting rangey, long wing defenders is better situationally. It’s not an easy problem to fix because there are only so many minutes to be handed out. The easiest answer, the only answer the Jazz have available to them right now is that  is that the Jazz’s current players just need to do better. That could mean tougher defensive assignments for Mitchell and it definitely means that O’Neale has to do better on smaller guards.

“I’ve definitely got to be more aware of myself, take what the defense gives me and be aggressive in all situations.” — Royce O’Neale

  • While Mitchell put on a pretty incredible performance, the Jazz’s other All-Star, Rudy Gobert had probably his worst game of the season. But poor performances from Gobert are so few and far between that I can’t even remember the las time he had a performance that was anything below what would be considered average for Gobert. That’s ok though, I would have been more surprised if Gobert had come back from his longest ever absence from the game and he didn’t have a little bit of dust that needed brushing off. All that being said, Gobert messed up a lot in a game that could have been the Jazz’s seventh straight win and sent them into the break with some joy.
  • That’s three games in a row now where Mike Conley hasn’t been as effective as he normally is. The All-Star break couldn’t come at better time for the Jazz’s veteran point guard. I’m not nearly at the point where I’m worried about Conley, but as with Gobert, he was not good for the Jazz on Wednesday.

Flat Notes

  • This game felt like a real letdown for the Jazz. They had control of the game and they had momentum, meanwhile the Lakers weren’t shooting the ball well, and were missing a key cog to what they do. The Jazz looked like they thought they had the game won and just kind of let go. What they were doing well in order to get a double-digit lead went away in the fourth quarter and the Jazz started to fall into bad habits once things started to spiral. The Jazz could have and should have played better and they didn’t and that’s what’s going to be the most upsetting when they watch film on this game.
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“There’s no way we should have lost this game, in my opinion. Credit to them, got to give credit where credit is due. But, we let this game slip.” — Donovan Mitchell

  • Anthony Davis went down in the first half with what looked like a really bad ankle injury. Though the Lakers got the win on Wednesday, they’ve also spent the last couple days talking about a renewed sense of energy and how they felt like things were turning their way. The Lakers announced that X-rays showed no damage and Davis’ injury has been ruled a sprain, but there’s no doubt that it’s a significant one that will keep him sidelined a while. Losing Davis, while not new territory for the Lakers, is a blow that sets them back once again.
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