April 4, 2018, 3:53 am
The Lakers lost to the Jazz 117-110 on Wednesday, falling short despite a resilient effort against a superior, healthier team.
Los Angeles entered the game missing three of their top creators on offense in Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Isaiah Thomas.
That didn’t stop the Lakers from starting out hot, coming out of the gate on fire and grabbing a 9-0 lead to start the game. Utah responded by pulling to within two points but the Lakers were determined, responding in kind by rebuilding their lead to 12 points.
Then the Jazz backcourt picked up their game, outscoring the Lakers 34-17 for the remainder of the half on their way to a season-high 41-point period. Ricky Rubio was more aggressive and efficient on offense than in any half in his career, establishing a new high with a 25-point half on 7-of-10 from floor, 4-of-6 from 3-point range and 7-of-7 from the free throw line.
Utah and Rubio continued their assault in the third quarter, eventually building a 15-point lead. This time he was joined by his backcourt mate Donovan Mitchell, who poured in nine points. Just when it appeared the game was getting out of hand, Los Angeles fought back to end the quarter with only a six-point deficit. They key to the Lakers staying in touch with the Jazz was their hot 3-point shooting (13-of-21, 61.9 percent), and aggression attacking the rim which earned them 25 free throw attempts (16 made, 64.0 percent).
The Lakers’ effort was admirable all night but the Jazz simply outclassed them in the end, emerging victorious without ever creating any significant separation. Los Angeles was unable to score many points in the paint so their 3-point shooting kept them in the game — but it deserted them in the final frame as they were only able to convert 1-of-7 fourth quarter attempts.
Julius Randle struggled to score against the length of the Jazz as expected; however, his ability to create for his teammates was impressive. Randle, who played point guard for stretches, tallied five first quarter assists on his way to 12 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists. Unfortunately, his efficiency suffered in his challenging matchup as he shot only 3-of-9 from the field, 6-of-10 from the charity stripe, committed five turnovers and earned a minus-16 rating.
Kyle Kuzma received plenty of fan support in his return to Utah where he played his college basketball. It was well deserved as he accrued 26 points, six rebounds and one steal while shooting 9-of-18 from the floor. Although his aggression was rewarded with 12 trips to the charity stripe, he hurt his team by only converting seven attempts. He added four turnovers and a minus-13 rating in what was otherwise a strong offensive performance.
The Lakers got an unexpected outburst from Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who exploded for 28 points on 8-of-14 from the field, 5-of-9 from 3-point range and 7-of-8 from the line. His ultra-efficient game was one of the main reasons Los Angeles was able to stay in touch with the Jazz.
In the end, Utah was simply too much for the Lakers, especially at the guard position where Rubio and Mitchell were dominant. Rubio finished with 31 points, six rebounds and eight assists on 10-of-16 shooting. He committed only two turnovers and earned a plus-16 rating for the game, though, his second half was quiet compared to his first half explosion. Where he left off, Mitchell took over, tallying 15 second-half points to finish with 26 points, six rebounds, two assists, one steal and a plus-17 rating. He shot 10-of-21 from the floor and 4-of-8 from 3-point range.
Although Brook Lopez did a fairly solid job of battling Rudy Gobert, he could not stop the Frenchman from accumulating a massive stat line as he tallied 12 points, 16 rebounds, five assists, two steals and three blocks.
Key Stats and Observations
-The Lakers lost by seven points while missing 12 free throws. Los Angeles converted only 24-of-36 from the line (66.7 percent) compared to the Jazz who shot an equally poor 17-of-27 (63.0 percent).
-Utah outrebounded Los Angeles 47-39, including 14-7 on the offensive glass.
-The Jazz edged the Lakers 50-34 at points scored in the key. Los Angeles was held to 18 points below their league-leading average by Utah’s excellent defense.
-One element that kept the Lakers in the game was their hot 3-point shooting as they were able to knock down 14-of-28 from long range (50.0 percent) vs. 14-of-33 (42.4 percent) for Utah.
The Lakers host the Spurs Wednesday night for the second half of a back-to-back set.
Los Angeles is still expected to be without Ingram and Ball, making their task even more difficult.
San Antonio is in a tightly-packed Western Conference where the four through eight seeds are separated by only two games — every game is crucial. They will be extremely motivated to emerge victorious and secure their current spot as the fourth seed. The Spurs lost a close game to the Clippers on Tuesday night, making their battle with the Lakers even more pivotal in their quest for playoff position. The loss snapped their streak of 18 consecutive seasons with 50 victories.
The Spurs are led by LaMarcus Aldridge, who is averaging 23.1 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.2 blocks while shooting an impressive 50.9 percent from the field and 83.3 percent from the line.
May 21, 2019, 12:02 amDamian Lillard - G - Trail Blazers
Damian Lillard had his best game this series in Monday's 117-119 Game 4 loss to the Warriors with 28 points and 12 assists to go with four rebounds and four 3-pointers.
Lillard went 11-for-24 from the field and hit a signature logo 3-pointer, but in the end he couldn't convert on his layup or his 3-pointer in OT to keep the Blazers' season alive. He's been playing through a rib injury which explains why he's been a bit off on offense. Tonight he brought it all in an attempt to survive, but it just wasn't enough against the juggernaut Warriors.
May 21, 2019, 12:00 amCJ McCollum - G - Trail Blazers
C.J. McCollum scored 26 points on 10-of-22 shooting with two rebounds, seven assists, a steal, two blocks and five 3-pointers in Monday's Game 4 against the Warriors.
McCollum has been the Blazers' most consistent threat on offense in this series, but he was unable to convert on some tough shots late in OT to keep the Blazers' season alive. He's improved upon last postseason, but this year ended the same as the Blazers were swept.
May 20, 2019, 11:59 pmMeyers Leonard - F/C - Trail Blazers
Meyers Leonard had a career-high 30 points on 12-of-16 shooting with 12 rebounds, three assists, a steal, a block and five 3-pointers in Monday’s Game 4 loss to the Warriors.
Leonard had 25 points in the first half thanks to his 5-for-6 shooting from deep and both of those numbers already set new career-highs. Thanks to his hot hand, the Warriors had to respect him out on the 3-point line which freed up space for Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum to operate on the perimeter.
May 20, 2019, 11:58 pmAl-Farouq Aminu - F - Trail Blazers
Al-Farouq Aminu scored zero points on 0-of-2 shooting with a rebound and a block in Monday's Game 4.
Aminu stunk it up again, but the Blazers didn't get much help from their bench either. Rodney Hood (40 minutes, seven points on 3-of-11 shooting with two rebounds, two assists, two steals and a 3-pointer) and Evan Turner (six points on 3-of-4 shooting with two rebounds and a steal) didn't do much, showing that coach Stotts didn't have many options to choose from.
May 20, 2019, 11:56 pmStephen Curry - G - Golden State Warriors
Stephen Curry led the Warriors to a 119-117 OT Game 4 on Monday with 37 points on 11-of-25 shooting with 13 rebounds, 11 assists, a steal and seven 3-pointers.
Curry put on an off-ball clinic tonight, running circles around the Blazers to get open even though he drew consistent triple-teams. Steve Kerr wanted to end this series tonight so Curry played the entire second half including OT and the move paid off. There shouldn’t be any more noise about Curry’s ability to perform in the playoffs as he destroyed the Blazers in every coverage they threw at him. It’ll be all eyes on Curry again in the Finals as they look to three-peat.
May 20, 2019, 11:54 pmDraymond Green - F - Golden State Warriors
Draymond Green notched a 18-14-11 triple-double to go with three steals, two blocks and a 3-pointer in Monday’s Game 4 win over the Blazers.
Green has proven over the past two games that he still has the ability to kick it into high gear. His defensive tenacity and anticipation might be the best in the league as he’s a one-man wrecking crew on that end of the floor. His only triple was a big one late in OT and his ability to ignite the Warriors on a big run thanks to his defense and passing were huge reasons why the Warriors swept the Blazers.
May 20, 2019, 11:52 pmJordan Bell - F - Golden State Warriors
Jordan Bell started in Monday's Game 4 against the Blazers and scored seven points on 3-of-5 shooting with two assists and a steal.
Bell drew his first career playoff start after Damian Jones (DNP-CD) looked overwhelmed in his Game 3 start, but ceded the closing minutes to Kevon Looney (29 minutes, 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting with 14 rebounds, a steal and a block) who played the best out of all the Warriors' centers. Looney's timing and offensive rebounding have been huge for Golden State and his ability to switch on to perimeter players has also been a huge reason as to why he sees the floor more than the other bigs.
May 20, 2019, 11:52 pmKlay Thompson - G - Golden State Warriors
Klay Thompson struggled in Monday's Game 4 win over the Blazers with 17 points on 7-of-21 shooting with six rebounds, two assists, two steals, a block and three 3-pointers.
Thompson has been forced to put the ball on the floor more with the Warriors lacking playmakers and you can clearly see him out of his comfort zone. His defense was stifling tonight in crunch time as he perfectly contested both of Damian Lillard's shot attempts at the end of OT.
May 20, 2019, 11:49 pmAlfonzo McKinnie - F - Golden State Warriors
Alfonzo McKinnie started in Monday’s Game 4 win over the Blazers and scored 12 points on 5-of-12 shooting with two rebounds and a 3-pointer.
McKinnie drew the start in place of Andre Iguodala (calf strain) and had the worst plus-minus out of all the starters but came up with some big offensive rebounds in OT. He can’t space the floor any better than Shaun Livingston (22 minutes, eight points on 4-of-4 shooting with a rebound, an assist, a steal and a block) who plays much better with the Warriors’ starters so the starting job is just in name.
May 20, 2019, 9:02 pmJordan Bell - F - Golden State Warriors
Jordan Bell will start at center in Monday's Game 4 for the Warriors.
Bell has played between 11 and 15 minutes in the three conference finals games, and he's unlikely to play too much more than that tonight. Look for Kevon Looney to continue to get more minutes than Bell tonight.
Source: Anthony Slater on Twitter