SALT LAKE CITY — The Los Angeles Lakers closed out the third quarter of their 116-108 win Monday night over the Utah Jazz on a 19-5 run that put the Lakers in front with an 10-point advantage that was too much for the Jazz to overcome.
To that point the Jazz had been playing pretty well, really a night-and-day switch from their poor performance against Oklahoma City on Saturday. So what went so wrong in that third quarter? Honestly, after rewatching it, it was a lot of Anthony Davis.
There were a few sloppy mistakes and some missed open looks, but for the most part, Davis is the reason the Lakers pulled ahead.
Here’s a breakdown of that critical stretch:
Davis started the Lakers run by playing a big-on-big isolation game against Rudy Gobert, sliding by the Jazz’s center for a low bank shot. Lakers trail, 71-69.
On the other end Donovan Mitchell drove in to draw the defense, leaving Georges Niang open for a 3 on the right wing. Though the shot seemed wide open on first glance, Niang’s release had to be quite high because the guy who was closing out was none other than the 7-foot Davis. The ball clanged off the rim.
“We got good looks, we got what we wanted, sometimes they just don’t go in,” Mitchell said. “When you’ve got guys like AD and LeBron (James) over there orchestrating things you’ve got to be real locked in, especially when the shots aren’t falling.”
The Jazz then actually come up with a steal and inbound the ball from the side after Dion Waiters committed a foul in his attempt to recover from having the ball stripped away by Joe Ingles.
On the offensive end, Ingles broke free from Danny Green in the right corner, sprinting around a screening Niang to get a handoff from Gobert near the top of the arc. Gobert quickly rolled to the basket, only to find himself alone in the paint. Gobert is alone because Davis chose not to follow, instead using his length to bat Ingles’ pass attempt right out of the air for a steal.
Alex Caruso drove in, drawing the attention of Green’s defender, Ingles. Ingles over-helped on Caruso, giving Green room to work with so Caruso kicked out to Green, who is able to get into the paint and send home a soft-touch, high-arching floater. Game tied, 71-71.
After some back and forth with no score from either team, Ingles tried to penetrate again but didn’t like what he saw as the defense crowded. Ingles backed out to the perimeter and passed to Mitchell who dribbled three times and then shot a 3 over the outstretched arms of, you guessed it, Davis. Shot doesn’t fall.
“Our guys want to make plays when (the shots) aren’t falling and there’s nothing wrong with that,” Jazz head coach Quin Snyder said after the game. “You want to put pressure on the rim if you’re not making shots and I think when we put pressure on the rim and kicked it out we got great looks.”
Even with multiple opportunities to take back the lead and some great looks from deep, the Jazz couldn’t get it to happen.
With another chance to break away, Ingles dribbled while he waited for a screen from Gobert. Rather than fight through the screen, Green waited for Ingles to drive and poked the ball away from Ingles as he passed him. Niang fouled Waiters on the fast-break attempt. Waiters hit both free throws and the Lakers took the lead.
The Jazz opened up their next offensive possession moving the ball quick and passing well on a set which had Jordan Clarkson running baseline from the right and curling to the left of the arc.
The problem is that in the mix, Davis switched onto Clarkson, who hesitated slightly only to find any space created during the play was gone. Clarkson tried to dribble down and get a mid-range step back to go, but it was blocked out of bounds by Davis, who was fouled by Clarkson as the ball was in the air.
With the Lakers coming up short on their offensive trip the Jazz had yet again another chance. Mitchell received a kick-out from a driving Clarkson. Mitchell initially had space to shoot with Caruso late coming over but drove inside and lost control of the ball on a behind-the-back dribble. Lakers proceed to extend their lead, 75-71.
Then Emmanuel Mudiay lost the ball off his foot, Clarkson missed a wide open 3, and Davis hit a trey on the other end for a seven-point lead.
Battling for a rebound with Davis, Gobert was charged a personal foul and a technical foul for yelling about the personal. Waiters hit the technical free throw, and with the Jazz over the foul limit, Davis sank both shots at the charity stripe as Gobert sat down with four fouls. Lakers lead by 10.
The Jazz and Lakers traded baskets and then Clarkson drove toward the baseline into traffic, got caught, picked up his dribble and traveled. Turnover. Davis hit another 3-pointer on the other end without hesitation.
“They turned it up even more,” Mitchell said of the pressure from the Lakers after the Jazz lost the lead. “The next thing you know we’re down 12 or whatever. The biggest thing for us is continue to play through that pressure.”
Mudiay got a bank shot to fall at the buzzer, but it wasn’t much relief considering the damage was already done.