The Los Angeles Lakers entered their matchup with the Utah Jazz on yet another losing streak. They had lost four straight, but they managed to turn things around with a 102-84 win over the Jazz at home.
Coming into this game, these two teams couldn’t have been on more opposite paths in the month of January. The first month of the new year had seen Utah put together an 8-2 record (second-best in the league), while Los Angeles was the not-so-proud owner of a league-worst 2-10 showing.
Records aside, L.A. needed the win, and the Lakers proved that they were the more talented group Friday night.
The first quarter began and the Lakers were the team with the most energy. They were looking inside to Dwight Howard, they were swarming on defense and they were turning stops into points. They looked like a team with nothing to lose, and quite frankly, it was a good look for them.
After jumping out to an early 11-2 lead, Los Angeles was able to finish the first quarter ahead, 26-19. The team had the energy to begin the game, but Utah’s defense stepped up a bit to begin the second period.
The second half would start with L.A. up 10 points, but the third period would prove to be a competitive one. The tempo picked up on both sides, and the Jazz began creating open looks by attacking the shot-blockers of the Lakers.
The closing seconds of the third ended with a minor scuffle between Pau Gasol and Paul Millsap, and while it looked like the Jazz might benefit from a little extra energy, it was the Lakers who stole the show from that point forward.
The final period began, and it was all Los Angeles. The Lakers were forcing turnovers, their half-court play was efficient and their fast-break tempo was creating easy looks on the offensive end. An 18-point victory does little over the course of an 82-game season, but if one win can give them confidence, it could prove to be just what they need with the halfway point of the season officially in the past.