- Benjamin Gerstel
Lakers squeeze past the Jazz 101-95
Only a day after LeBron James apologized to Lakers fans and made a promise “[they’ll] be better,” they seemed to have turned things around. Heading into tonight, Utah had the best offensive rating in the league with 116.5. They’ve also only been held to under 100 points only three times prior to tonight. On both sides of the ball, it was easily the best game the Lakers played this season. Here are three reasons why: One of the biggest reasons was none other than Stanley Johnson, who they have signed to three-straight ten-day contracts..Johnson played like the former eighth overall pick (in 2015) he was, making some of the biggest plays of the game. His offensive rebound, which led to an elite pass by Stanley himself to the corner for an open three, and a steal at the end were phenomenal, and he made a convincing case for the Lakers to guarantee him a roster spot. In 28 minutes, Johnson shot 7-9 (77%), corralled in four rebounds, and registered three assists. Ten of his fifteen were in the fourth quarter. Johnson said after the game “I just wanted to bring some energy…it’s nothing but energy and that’s what I want to continue to bring to be successful.” He certainly did that tonight, becoming a sensation for Lakers nation.
Secondly, it was a group effort by L.A. They haven’t looked this good all season, and it’s because they put their best effort forward on both sides of the ball. They held Donovan Mitchell, one of the best guards in the NBA, to 13 points (6-19 shooting). Jordan Clarkson was held to 2-13, and Bojan Bogdanovic was 1-9. The impact of their improved effort is evident, especially considering how good Utah is offensively. Offensively, their effort was also much better than usual. Plays like Russ’s insane dunk over Rudy Gobert, his and-one finger roll under a minute to go have been missed this season, and Austin Reaves’s tip in helped separate L.A. in the most important moments of the game. They weren’t afraid at all to attack the rim against the three-time defensive player of the year. Lastly, LeBron’s consistency allows him to be the heart and soul of this team. With Anthony Davis out, he has to push them and will them to victory every single night. He did it again, with his consistent 25-7-7 line. Usually, he has to be a one man show (or two including Reaves), but he had help from his whole crew. Malik Monk dropped 15, Talen Horton-Tucker had 11, Russell Westbrook had 15, and LeBron had his nonchalant 25 on top of Stanley Johnson’s performance.
It’s LeBron’s 836th career game scoring 25 points, extending his lead over Kareem by 43. In a game that was as close as this one though, LeBron really needed other guys to step up and that’s exactly what happened. Los Angeles won the game 101-95, and will play at home against Indiana tomorrow. Utah will play Houston in their next game. .