April 9, 2018, 3:34 am
The Lakers did their best to hang with the Jazz on Sunday but simply did not have the players available to keep pace with a strong Utah squad.
The game started poorly for Los Angeles with Utah scoring the first seven points and eventually taking a 19-4 lead against their overmatched opponent. The Lakers stormed back, led by Josh Hart’s defensive effort — in particular a huge block shot on a Donovan Mitchell dunk attempt. Tyler Ennis came off the bench to help spark the 10-0 run that help stave off the Jazz, chipping-in four points and three steals while earning the team’s only positive rating in the period.
Los Angeles was able to go into the half down only six points even though they really only got production from three players: Hart, Ennis and Julius Randle, who contributed 37-of-44 points.
The Lakers could not keep up their super-human defensive effort going in the third quarter, failing to hold the Jazz at bay and falling behind 82-67 by the end of the third quarter. Los Angeles really needed to shoot well from 3-point range to counteract the strength of Utah’s interior defense — instead they made only 2-of-17 from distance going into the final frame. One culprit in particular was Brook Lopez who had an off night, going 0-of-10 from the floor and 0-of-4 from 3-point range, failing to see time on the court in the fourth quarter.
The Lakers fell behind by as many as 21 points, only drawing as close as 13 before falling by the eventual score of 112-97.
The Jazz were led by rookie guard Mitchell, who was impressive all night with his athleticism, shooting, passing and array of offensive moves. He finished with 28 points, nine rebounds, eight assists, one steal and one block on 9-of-18 shooting from the field.
Joe Ingles showed his offensive versatility all night as well, accruing 22 points, 10 assists, four rebounds, one steal and one block on 9-of-12 from the floor and 3-of-6 from 3-point range. He was able to score easily all night, often strolling to the basket uncontested or knocking down wide open shots from the perimeter as the Lakers focused on other elements of the Jazz attack.
The Lakers were led by Hart, who played excellent defense while contributing 25 points, four rebounds, one assists, two steals and two blocks on 10-of-18 shooting from the field.
Randle was limited to only 25 minutes in the blowout but still finished with 17 points, seven rebounds and four assists while shooting 6-of-12 from the field and 5-of-5 from the line.
Ennis was the surprise star of the evening for the Lakers, scoring a career-high 22 points with six rebounds, two assists, three steals and a plus-5 rating. He shot 9-of-18 from the floor and played a strong, aggressive brand of basketball all night.
Los Angeles has limped towards the end of this season, losing six of eight due to all the injuries that have crippled their team.
The Jazz clinched a playoff berth with the victory, though they still have a lot to fight for as they only hold a two-game lead over the eight seed.
Key Stats and Observations
-The Lakers were only able to amass 20 assists compared to the Jazz who tallied 35 assists on their 42 made field goals.
-Utah shot 42-of-83 from the field (50.6 percent) vs. Los Angeles who made only 37-of-93 (39.8 percent). The difference was even more pronounced from 3-point range where the Jazz knocked down 13-of-36 (36.1 percent) while the Lakers converted 5-of-25 (20.0 percent). Los Angeles was even more inept from distance prior to the fourth quarter as they had only made 2-of-17 from distance at that juncture.
-The Lakers did a good job at the free throw line making 18-of-22 (81.8 percent) while the Jazz shot well below their season average, knocking down only 15-of-22 (68.2 percent).
-After losing the turnover battle 21-5 in their last contest, the Lakers did a better job in this game, turning the ball over 14 times compared to 18 miscues by Utah.
The Lakers host James Harden and the Houston Rockets on Tuesday for their last home game of the season.
It’s hard to predict the nature of the upcoming game as Houston has already clinched the top seed in the Western Conference and therefore may choose to rest some of their key players for this meaningless contest.
Los Angeles also has nothing to gain and therefore may choose to avoid playing any of its multitude of injured players including Kuzma, Ball and Ingram — the three key players who appear to have a chance of suiting up.
What the Lakers have demonstrated this year is a will to fight and grit that was absent in previous years, lending one to believe that those that do take the court for the Purple and Gold will be battling their hardest against whoever is in uniform for the Rockets.
June 26, 2019, 10:02 amKawhi Leonard - SF - Toronto Raptors
Marc Stein of the New York Times is reporting that Kawhi Leonard is strongly considering signing a two-year, $70 million deal to remain with the world champion Raptors.
Leonard is being courted by nearly every team in a major market after his championship run with the Raptors, and he is expected to meet with the Clippers next week. It has been suggested that signing a two-year deal with a player option in the third year would hold appeal for Leonard, since he would then be eligible for a higher maximum contract in the summer of 2021, after completing his 10th season. Kawhi averaged 26.6 points and 7.3 rebounds in 60 regular-season games with the Raptors and he should maintain the same value regardless of where he lands.
Source: Marc Stein
June 26, 2019, 9:53 amKlay Thompson - SG - Golden State Warriors
All-Star shooting guard Klay Thompson would be open to a meeting with the Clippers should the Warriors not offer him a max-level contract, according to Adrian Wojnarowski.
Thompson is an unrestricted free agent this offseason and will undergo surgery later this week while Warriors general manager Bob Myers said it’s unclear when he will return. Thompson’s father, Mychal Thompson, told the San Francisco Chronicle earlier this month that there’s “no question” Klay will re-sign with the Warriors. The 29-year old shooting guard averaged 21.5 points and 3.5 rebounds during the regular season and along with Steph Curry and Draymond Green, has been an integral part of the Warriors’ core that has reached the Finals five straight times.
June 26, 2019, 9:35 amDeMarcus Cousins - C - Golden State Warriors
Free agent center DeMarcus Cousins is among the players on the Knicks’ radar, according to Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated.
Cousins, 28, is coming off a one-year stint with the Warriors, where he averaged 16.3 points and 8.2 rebounds, but he was limited to just 30 regular-season games. New York is still holding out hope for Kevin Durant but if he doesn’t come to the Big Apple, the Knicks clearly have others on their radar as sort of contingency plans and Boogie is one of them. Spears also reported that the Knicks have their eyes on Marcus Morris, Markieff Morris and DeAndre Jordan.
Source: Marc J. Spears
June 26, 2019, 7:55 amKevin Durant - SF - Golden State Warriors
Appearing on ESPN last night, Adrian Wojnarowski said that the Nets plan to offer Kevin Durant, a four-year max contract.
Brooklyn is in a great position to offer Kyrie Irving a max contract and then use that to pursue KD or perhaps another free agent. Zach Lowe added that the idea of Kyrie as a solo doesn’t appear to be the plan but the Nets would ultimately take on Irving as a solo act, although there would probably be a divide within the organization. KD is expected to miss the majority of the next season but it looks like teams won’t have any second thoughts offering him the max.
Source: Adrian Wojnarowski
June 25, 2019, 8:11 pmBobby Portis - PF - Washington Wizards
Tony Jones and Fred Katz of The Athletic are reporting Bobby Portis is looking for as much as $16 million in free agency and has interest from multiple teams.
According to Jones and Katz, the Wizards aren't expected to match a huge offer sheet on Portis. As a restricted free agent, the Wiz declining to match would allow him to go elsewhere. The Utah Jazz have been a team at the top of the list on the rumor mill. Portis averaged 14.3 points and 8.6 rebounds in 28 games for the Wiz last season.
Source: Tony Jones on Twitter
June 25, 2019, 6:55 pmNikola Vucevic - C - Orlando Magic
Per Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News, the Mavs like how Nikola Vucevic fits alongside Kristaps Porzingis, but his expected salary would cost too much for the Mavs to sign.
The Mavs will enter free agency with a ton of cap space, but after the expected max contract that they'll extend to Porzingis, they may be more inclined to spread the wealth around or target Kemba Walker than committing a max contract to Vucevic. Vucevic had a career year as an All-Star for the Magic this past season, but his next destination remains a crapshoot.
Source: Dallas News
June 25, 2019, 6:38 pmJimmy Butler - SG - Philadelphia Sixers
Per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Rockets' ideal plan in free agency is to get Jimmy Butler by a sign-and-trade deal with the Sixers.
Butler is going to be a sought after commodity once free agency opens as the Sixers, Lakers, and others are also going to be looking to ink him to a long-term deal. Butler regained his level back to max contract level after his play during the playoffs this season. The Rockets don't have any cap space to sign Butler outright, so they'll have to get a commitment from him to take a pay cut, while also getting the Sixers to agree to help facilitate a deal. This is going to be interesting.
June 25, 2019, 5:08 pmKhem Birch - C - Orlando Magic
The Magic have extended qualifying offers to C Khem Birch and F Amile Jefferson, rendering both restricted free agents ahead of free agency which is set to begin on June 30th.
Birch, who averaged 4.8 points and 3.8 rebounds in just 12.9 minutes per game this past season, is seemingly a priority for the Magic to bring back, and now they'll get the opportunity to match any contracts he may fetch from other teams. Jefferson was in the G-League for the majority of the season, where he was very productive. Both may take on larger roles, should they stay with the Magic, as star C Nikola Vucevic is an unrestricted free agent.
Source: Magic PR on Twitter
June 25, 2019, 4:58 pmJR Smith - SG - Cleveland Cavaliers
According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports, the Lakers could eventually take a look at signing J.R. Smith should he be released by the Cavs, or traded and bought out by another team.
Smith is likely to become a free agent one way or the other by the end of the month, and the Lakers will be looking at cheap floor-spacers to fill out their roster. Smith and LeBron James are familiar with one another after winning a championship together with the Cavs, and it looks like Smith to the Lakers is a real possibility.
Source: Chris Haynes on Twitter
June 25, 2019, 4:00 pmKristaps Porzingis - PF - Dallas Mavericks
Shams Charania of The Athletic is reporting that the Mavs will meet with restricted free agent Kristaps Porzingis (torn ACL) once free agency opens on June 30th, and the team will offer him the full five-year, $158 million max contract.
This was expected ever since the Mavs traded for Porzingis mid-season while he recovered from his knee injury. Porzingis is fully expected to sign with the Mavs and become reigning ROY Luka Doncic's running mate for the foreseeable future.
Source: Shams Charania on Twitter