There is some life left in the Los Angeles Lakers, after all.
Los Angeles blew out the visiting Utah Jazz, 102-94, on Friday night thanks to a full-team effort.
It was a night of positives amidst a sea of trade rumors and uncertainty throughout the organization. Recent struggles have put the future of the team's current structure in doubt, but they came together and delivered perhaps their best overall effort of the season in this rout of the Jazz.
The Lakers got off to a quick start, chalking up a 26-19 advantage in the first quarter. They held steady, playing solid defense and built a 47-37 lead at the half.
They did it in unusual fashion, too. Kobe Bryant, who finished with 14 points, attempted just 10 shots and no free throws throughout the entire game. Instead, Bryant deferred to his teammates, racking up 14 assists and just missing a triple-double by one rebound.
Utah shot poorly, connecting on just 42 percent of its shots and just 21.4 percent from behind the three-point line. They also failed to establish any low-post presence while getting out-rebounded by a 45-29 margin.
Dwight Howard was efficient, hitting eight of his 12 field-goal attempts and grabbing 13 boards for L.A. Pau Gasol, newly added to the team's bench, contributed 15 points, seven rebounds and three assists in 25 minutes.
Leading the charge for the Jazz was forward Derrick Favors. The big man scored 14 points on five-of-five shooting and also grabbed five rebounds.
Player of the Game: Kobe Bryant, SG, Los Angeles Lakers
Kobe Bryant attempted just 10 shots but was efficient, shooting 70 percent from the field while attempting no three-pointers or free throws. It was an unusual game that saw the game flow through Bryant rather than begin and end with the star shooter.
Bryant played facilitator and his teammates didn't disappoint. Could this performance be a turning point for the struggling Lakers? It's certainly a good starting point, but Bryant may have to do more against more potent offenses in the league.
How he balances the scorer inside him with the role he played in this one will be key to the success of the Lakers in the second half of the season.
What's Next for Utah?
The Utah Jazz can't be happy with their performance in Southern California on Friday night. They won't have much time to dwell on it, either. Utah will return home to host the Indiana Pacers in a 9:30 p.m. ET clash that will air on NBATV.
What's Next for Los Angeles?
Los Angeles will stay in the confines of the Staples Center over the weekend and await the visiting Oklahoma City Thunder. They will host the Thunder at 3:30 p.m. ET on Sunday afternoon in search of back-to-back wins after dropping their last four games.