Video Credit: NBA

New FSM Essential Recap: Lakers vs Jazz- Game 44

Franchise Sports Media

Los Angeles Lakers (22-21)  | Utah Jazz (29-15)


The Los Angeles Lakers reached .500 after a 101-95 come-from-behind victory over the Utah Jazz.


Lakers vs Jazz
Photo Credit: Ringo H.W. Chiu/AP

The Lakers wiped out an excellent first half by revisiting their early-season habit of collapsing in the third quarter. Still, their best defensive stretch in a long while, coupled with a fantastic fourth quarter from Stanley Johnson, led to a much-needed, 101-95, come-from-behind victory over the Utah Jazz.

LeBron James looked more comfortable on offense than he has over the past few days, scoring 25 points while notching seven rebounds and acting as the primary facilitator with seven assists. But on this night, he wasn’t a one-man show; He got some help from Russell Westbrook, Johnson, and a variety of other Lakers role players to get what was almost inarguably the team’s best win of the year.

James promised the team would show more effort after their embarrassing blowout vs. Denver, and on Monday, that promise was kept.

Frank Vogel turned to his 22nd lineup of the season so far — in the Lakers’ 44th game — countering Utah’s size with a frontcourt of Dwight Howard and Trevor Ariza alongside James at small forward and Avery Bradley in the backcourt with Westbrook.

The Lakers responded with more energy on defense than they’ve shown in several games from both the veteran starters and the young bench unit of Stanley Johnson, Malik Monk, Talen Horton-Tucker, and Austin Reaves. Combine that with the Jazz coming in on the second half of a back-to-back — the first of which was in the high altitude of Denver — and L.A. allowed just 46 points in the first half while forcing 11 turnovers.

The Lakers’ 52 points in the half, meanwhile, were punctuated by a massive (and seemingly emotionally cathartic) dunk for Westbrook, who let out weeks of frustration with his hammer over Rudy Gobert that was so violent that France may have considered it an act of war, earning a technical foul for his explosive celebration afterward.


Westbrook had 15 points on the night, finishing in style with a coast-to-coast finger roll — also over Gobert — to ice it for the Lakers.


Lakers vs Jazz
Photo Credit: Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images

But the Jazz, led by Donovan Mitchell, erupted for an 8-0 run early in the third to tie the game, then a 12-2 run to take a double-digit lead at the end of a third-quarter that resembled the Lakers’ shoddy performances coming out of halftime early in the season. Utah outscored the purple and gold 32-20 in the third, completely turning the game around and even building a double-digit lead at one point.

The Lakers rallied, however, thanks to James and a surprising wingman: Johnson. The Southern California native — who just returned on his third 10-day contract — had arguably his best offensive game as a Laker, as 10 of his 15 points came on a 15-2 Lakers run in the fourth quarter to put L.A. back up by four as he attacked Gobert off the dribble, easily shooting in the open space the three-time Defensive Player of the Year allowed him.

Johnson’s two-man game with James worked superbly, as the former Mater Dei High School standout once again made the case for his hometown team to sign him for the rest of the season. He also had a key assist on an Avery Bradley three-pointer to keep the Lakers pull-away with just over two minutes remaining. The Jazz never truly threatened again, scoring just 17 points in the final quarter.


The Lakers will be right back at home in Arena for a matchup against the the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night. The game will start at 7:30 and can be seen live on Spectrum SportsNet.

Lakers vs Jazz                   Lakers vs Jazz                 Lakers vs Jazz                 Lakers vs Jazz                 Lakers vs Jazz                 Lakers vs Jazz                                                                                                                                                                                                 


– Matt Dobbs – Franchise Sports Media

Follow Matt on Twitter @RecordBowlerFSM

Follow The Franchise on social media