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Utah Jazz vs. Los Angeles Lakers: Postgame Grades and Analysis

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Utah Jazz vs. Los Angeles Lakers: Postgame Grades and Analysis
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers went wire to wire in a 110-99 win over the Utah Jazz on Friday night.

The Lakers were led by Kendall Marshall, who became the team's sixth starting point guard of the season and went off for 20 points, 15 assists and six rebounds. His playmaking set the tone early and carried L.A. throughout the game.

Pau Gasol seemed very happy playing with the new point guard, as he had perhaps his best game of the season, scoring 23 points and grabbing 17 rebounds.

Utah was led by Gordon Hayward, who scored 22 points on 8-of-16 shooting.

 

Key Player Grades

Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

Pau Gasol, Los Angeles Lakers, Power Forward/Center

Gasol had very little trouble with the inexperienced front line of the Jazz on Friday night. He scored on them in the post, from the elbows and along the baseline.

He looked particularly comfortable in pick-and-pop situations with Marshall. Several times after Gasol set the ball screen, Marshall would hit him with a pass directly into the shooting pocket. 

The accurate passing contributed to a 10-of-17 shooting effort from the big man.

Grade: A+

 

Kendall Marshall, Los Angeles Lakers, Point Guard

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Could there have been a more perfect fit for Marshall than a Mike D'Antoni-run offense?

The second-year point guard was a prolific passer at North Carolina, and the run-and-gun style of D'Antoni has made unlikely (and sometimes temporary) stars of the likes of Steve Blake, Chris Duhon and Jeremy Lin.

A willing passer in this system is bound to have some big games, and that's exactly what happened for Marshall on Friday.

Hopefully, that didn't come off as completely discrediting the player, though. There's a lot to be said for Marshall's willingness to distribute, and his improved shot-making ability should force defenders to play him honest on ball screens.

His biggest shot of the night came in the final minute of the fourth quarter. After the Jazz had stormed back from a 19-point deficit to cut the lead to five, Marshall hit a three from a few feet beyond the line that put the Lakers up eight with 45 seconds left.

Grade: A+

 

Nick Young, Los Angeles Lakers, Small Forward/Shooting Guard

Typically a bright spot for the Lakers this season, Nick "Swaggy P" Young struggled on Friday. That is until the fourth quarter.

He went 6-of-14 from the field (0-of-5 from three-point range) and scored 11 of his 16 points in the second half.

With the erratic shot selection he's become known for, his early struggles probably shouldn't have been surprising. But scoring 20 in seven of his past 10 games may have raised expectations a bit.

Grade: C+

 

Jodie Meeks, Los Angeles Lakers, Shooting Guard

Jodie Meeks struggled with his three-point shot (he was just 3-of-10), but he still managed to score 18 points and not look like a total disaster while spending some time at point guard.

It's a tough assignment for the shooting guard to also play backup point guard, but that's the situation the Lakers find themselves in with all these injuries.

Grade: C+

 

Robert Sacre, Los Angeles Lakers, Center

Robert Sacre started at center for defensive purposes. For much of the game, he didn't disappoint. He kept Derrick Favors relatively quiet in terms of scoring, but more importantly, he helped keep him off the boards.

Sacre finished with 10 rebounds compared to Favors' six.

He didn't do a lot for the Lakers on the other end of the floor (four points on 2-of-6 shooting), but that wasn't really what was required of him on Friday.

Grade: C

 

Wesley Johnson, Los Angeles Lakers, Small Forward

After starting 22 games this season, Wesley Johnson has been coming off the bench of late as D'Antoni continues to mess with his rotations in the wake of all these injuries.

Johnson was excellent in the role Friday, scoring 11 points on 5-of-5 shooting and playing solid defense on Utah's spark off the bench, Alec Burks.

Grade: B+

 

Bench, Los Angeles Lakers

In addition to Johnson, Shawne Williams was also solid off the bench. The stretch 4 went for 10 points on 3-of-4 shooting and hit all three of his attempts from long range.

Jordan Hill struggled as the backup big, going 1-of-7 from the field. His struggles made it hard to understand why Chris Kaman saw no playing time at all.

Grade: C

 

Trey Burke, Utah Jazz, Point Guard

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

December's Western Conference Rookie of the Month was absolutely roasted by the opposing point guard on Friday night.

Not only was he repeatedly abused as a defender in one-on-one situations by Marshall, he also did even more damage to his shooting percentage. He went 3-of-15 from the field for six points.

On the bright side, he was characteristically solid in taking care of the ball. He dished out nine assists and turned the ball over just once. 

Grade: C-

 

Gordon Hayward, Utah Jazz, Shooting Guard/Small Forward

It looks like Hayward may finally be discovering his shooting stroke. On Friday, he went 8-of-16 from the field and 4-of-6 from three-point range on the way to 22 points.

On several of Hayward's made jump shots, he took a rhythm dribble before going up. It may be the difference for the Jazz wing. Coming into the game, he was shooting 32.3 percent on catch-and-shoot attempts and 40 percent on dribble pull-ups.

In addition to the good shooting, Hayward was his usually solid self as a playmaker with six assists. He also did a good job of keeping Young quiet for most of three quarters.

Grade: A

 

Derrick Favors, Utah Jazz, Center/Power Forward

There are games for the Utah Jazz in which the franchise big man pretty much disappears. Such was the case with Favors Friday against the Lakers.

He wasn't really bad or good, just inconsequential. Gasol and Sacre pretty much kept him out of the action.

He finished with 11 points and six rebounds and didn't really make any impact plays.

Grade: C-

 

Marvin Williams, Utah Jazz, Power Forward

Much like Favors, Marvin Williams didn't play a bad game, but he also didn't really do anything positive that made him stand out.

His 11 points on 5-of-10 didn't quite counter what L.A. got from its starting 4.

Against the Lakers' starting frontcourt, he was an undersized liability on defense and on the boards (part of why Sacre and Gasol combined for 27 rebounds).

Grade: C-

 

Richard Jefferson, Utah Jazz, Small Forward

Richard Jefferson was just 4-of-11 from the field, but he still managed to be relatively efficient because he hit three threes and five free throws to finish with 16 points.

Unfortunately, he didn't provide too much besides those points and there were a couple of isos in which he had the ball that turned into terrible possessions.

Grade: C+

 

Enes Kanter, Utah Jazz, Power Forward/Center

It's taken a while, but it looks like Enes Kanter may be getting used to his role as sixth man. He scored 16 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and tied Jeremy Evans for a team-high plus/minus of plus-four on Friday.

He was even allowed to spend some time on the floor with Favors in the second half, something plenty of Jazz fans have pined for. This was supposed to be the season all the young guys grew together after all.

Grade: A

 

Bench, Utah Jazz

Evans was also solid for the second unit, scoring 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting and providing the kind of energy and highlight plays he's becoming known for.

Unfortunately, the typically solid Burks slowed the reserves down by shooting 1-of-8 from the field and scoring just three points.

Grade: C

 

What's Next?

Jazz

The Jazz will return home to take on the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET.

The young guys will have their hands full with Kevin Durant, but Burke should have a decent shot at a bounce-back game with Russell Westbrook out.

 

Lakers

The Kendall Marshall experience continues on Sunday at 9:30 p.m. ET against the Denver Nuggets in Los Angeles.

It will be a battle of Tar Heel point guards as the Nuggets are led by lightning-fast Ty Lawson.

 

For 140-character pearls of wisdom from Bleacher Report's Andy Bailey, follow him on Twitter: @AndrewDBailey.

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