The Los Angeles Lakers coasted to a 121-96 win over the host Utah Jazz on Wednesday at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City.
Los Angeles dug out of an early 11-3 hole to take a 34-26 lead after the first quarter and a 65-47 halftime edge. The Lakers never led by fewer than 11 points in the second half en route to the 25-point win.
L.A. shot 51.1 percent from the field and dominated the paint, scoring 52 points to Utah's 34.
Lakers big man Anthony Davis played a big part in that disparity, posting 26 points on 9-of-11 shooting to go along with six rebounds and three blocks. LeBron James added a 20-point, 12-assist double-double.
Utah played without starting point guard Mike Conley, who sat with left hamstring tightness. The Jazz have trailed their last three opponents by an average of 25.3 points in the first half, including a 77-37 deficit to the Toronto Raptors.
Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell led all scorers with 29 points.
The 12-10 Jazz have lost five of their last six. The 19-3 Lakers have won 12 of their last 13 games.
Lakers F/C Anthony Davis: 26 points, 6 rebounds, 3 blocks
Lakers G/F LeBron James: 20 points, 12 assists
Lakers PG Rajon Rondo: 14 points, 12 assists, 9 rebounds
Jazz G Donovan Mitchell: 29 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds
Jazz C Rudy Gobert: 13 points, 10 rebounds
Jazz G/F Bojan Bogdanovic: 23 points
Lakers Crush Yet Another Opponent
The Jazz may be in the midst of a slump, but they feature an All-Star in Mitchell and an All-NBA Third Team member in Rudy Gobert. They're almost certainly headed to the playoffs barring a major collapse (or the bottom half of a top-heavy Western Conference becoming more competitive) and are a formidable opponent on most nights.
But the Lakers treated them like a bottom-of-the-league team Wednesday, to the point where the game never felt in doubt for most of the second half.
Los Angeles put that doubt to rest in the third quarter after the Jazz opened the second half on a 10-3 run to cut the Lakers lead to 68-57. All L.A. did in response was go on a 10-2 run to take a 78-59 lead following a JaVale McGee dunk.
Playing against the Lakers almost seems demoralizing right now: Everything seems to go their way.
Kyle Kuzma hit two tough threes in the closing seconds of the first and second quarters.
Somehow, center Dwight Howard knocked down a three-pointer, his first of the year:
And James literally walked with the ball and didn't get called for a travel:
Of course, the Lakers don't need luck right now. They're still cruising to a win if Kuzma doesn't hit those threes, Howard bricks his attempt and the referee blows the whistle on James.
The bottom line is L.A. is one of three NBA teams in the top seven of offensive and defensive efficiency, per ESPN, with the Toronto Raptors and Milwaukee Bucks the other two. They're a machine with two superstars and a bunch of players who are filling their roles admirably for the league's best team.
Nights like Wednesday may become commonplace until the later rounds of the playoffs.
Jazz Can't Overcome Another Slow Start
The Jazz entered Wednesday losers of four of their last five, with the defeats coming by an average of 13.0 points.
That stretch is now five losses in six games, and Utah has trailed by 10 or more points entering halftime in all but one of those defeats.
Some context is needed: Utah has played the 19-3 Lakers, the 19-3 Milwaukee Bucks, the 14-7 Indiana Pacers, the 15-6 Philadelphia 76ers and 15-5 Toronto Raptors. Four of their defeats also came on the road.
Still, Utah's performance was a bit disappointing despite the tough opponent. The Jazz had a chance to catch the Lakers on a good night with L.A. entering town after playing the Denver Nuggets on the road the evening before.
Plus, the Jazz began Wednesday with an 8-1 home record, further increasing Utah's chances for an upset (or at least a competitive game).
That never materialized, though, as the Lakers thoroughly dominated in their 25-point win.
Very little went right for Utah on Wednesday, with Tony Jones of The Athletic summing up Utah's performance well in a tweet:
Andy Larsen of the Salt Lake Tribune also tweeted that the Lakers outscored the Jazz 32-5 on the fast break. Great defense led to great offense on multiple occasions, including this one:
The Lakers ended up doing better than the Jazz in every single box-score category outside of free-throw percentage.
Granted, Utah is going through a rough stretch right now, and recent performances against teams slated to be title contenders (or at least come close) are concerning for a team looking to improve upon a 50-win season last year.
However, the Jazz are still two games over .500 and have 60 regular-season games left. They started last season 18-19 heading into the 2019 calendar year but went 32-13 the rest of the way. Utah has the talent to get things right, even if recent performances naturally cast doubt upon that happening.
The Jazz will host the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday at 10 p.m. ET. The Lakers will finish a three-game road trip against the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday at 10:30 p.m. ET at the Moda Center.