Video Credit: NBA

FSM Essential Recap: Lakers vs. Jazz – Game 57


In a battle between shorthanded rosters, the Los Angeles Lakers outlasted the Utah Jazz in overtime, winning 127-115 on Saturday afternoon.


Lakers vs Jazz
Photo Credit: Yahoo Finance

With the Jazz shorthanded in the frontcourt, the Lakers looked to establish Andre Drummond in the paint, and he bulled his way to the rim for a basket and free throws early. However, Utah’s 3-point shooting gave them the early edge as they moved the ball around until finding an open shooter.

The Lakers did a much better job in the middle of the quarter of running the Jazz off the 3-point line and forcing them into contested looks from the field. Despite their increased defensive activity, they could not cool off Ersan Ilyasova, who was a perfect 5-of-5 from beyond the arc in the first quarter alone. As a result, they went into the second trailing 35-34.

Los Angeles started the second with a smaller lineup that could switch defensively, smothering Utah along the perimeter. However, several defensive lapses in a row allowed the Jazz to maintain a slight advantage.



The lead toggled back and forth between the two teams as each side was able to answer after each made basket. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope got going from the floor, hitting a few jumpers down the stretch that allowed Los Angeles to go into the half leading 65-62.


Lakers vs Jazz
Photo Credit: Big News Network

Caldwell-Pope led all scorers with 18 points at the break, hitting 5-of-9 3-point attempts. Meanwhile, former Laker Jordan Clarkson helped keep Utah in it with 13 first-half points.

Drummond’s quick hands were on display at the top of the third as he came up with two steals that led to a pair of dunks in transition. Drummond continued to score for the Lakers, barreling his way to the basket and later leading the break for another dunk.

Kyle Kuzma finally got going offensively, nailing a three and a turnaround jumper, while a Markieff Morris midrange jumper gave L.A. a 10-point lead. The Lakers were also able to stifle the Jazz’s drive-and-kick game, and they went into the fourth with a 94-82 lead.

Montrezl Harrell opened up the fourth with an exclamation point, lifting off for a vicious putback dunk over Ilyasova. The Jazz was able to get back within single digits, though, due to a Lakers scoring drought, with the latter struggling to take care of the basketball.

Morris was able to knock down a three-pointer that snapped Utah’s 15-0 run and ended Los Angeles’ scoring drought. Schroder led the way on both ends in the closing minutes, playing stellar individual defense and hitting clutch shots. The Lakers found themselves down two with less than 10 seconds left after a Clarkson three, but Schroder got all the way to the rim for a layup, forcing overtime.

Schroder continued his strong play, finding Kuzma for a corner three and Drummond for a lob that gave L.A. a five-point lead. The Lakers did not have the cleanest close to the game, but they did just enough to end up with the win after running away with it in the overtime period.


Lakers News and Notes:


Lakers vs Jazz
Photo Credit: L.A. Times

The Los Angeles Lakers were in first place in the Western Conference to start the season, but that started to slip as the injuries piled up on the team. Anthony Davis has missed significant time, but the Lakers stayed in the picture for the first seed because of LeBron James.

Then LeBron suffered a high ankle sprain on March 20, and the team has slipped in the standings since. The Lakers have a losing record since LeBron suffered the injury and now find themselves in fifth place in the West.

When LeBron was first injured, there was some concern about the team falling into the bottom two seeds in the West and thus being forced to participate in the new play-in tournament. However, the team has been slightly better than they could have been without LeBron, and the teams at the bottom of the standings haven’t been great.

It is certainly still possible, but less likely now that the Lakers are getting their star players back. Los Angeles is two games ahead of the sixth seed and three games ahead of the seventh seed with 16 games to play.

Lakers fans better hope that the team does not get cold while Portland and Dallas get hot. In fact, Lakers fans should be hoping that the team stays as either the fifth or fourth seed and that the top of the standings does not change.

The current Western Conference standings are perfect for the Los Angeles Lakers.


Photo Credit: Silver Screen and Roll

Last year the Los Angeles Lakers did not get any favors as they had to play one of the hottest eighth seeds in recent NBA history in the Trail Blazers in the first round and then had to play the pesky Rockets in round two. This year, if things can stay as they currently are, the Lakers will have a much better path.

The Western Conference is tough, and the Lakers are going to have to go through good teams regardless. However, as it stands right now, I like the Lakers’ chances far more than if they moved down to the sixth seed or if the top of the standings got moved around.

Let’s break down what the Lakers’ current playoff path would look like and why it would benefit the team to stay as the fourth or fifth seed.

As it stands, the Los Angeles Lakers would play the Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz.

This might not seem like an ‘easy path,’ but it really is when compared to the alternative. Fans of these teams might be upset that they are considered the easier path, but the Lakers have two very beatable teams in the Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz.

Nothing will be a breeze in the NBA Playoffs but the Lakers could legitimately beat both teams in five games.


Denver Nuggets:


Just about everyone viewed the Denver Nuggets as a very dangerous matchup a week ago. Nikola Jokic should be the league MVP and the team has a lot of talent around him. However, things change in the NBA and one massive thing changed for the Nuggets.

But Jamal Murray tore his ACL and will be out for the remainder of the season and the NBA Playoffs. While Jokic is still playing, that is a massive hit to the Denver Nuggets.

Winning in the playoffs is all about star power, and unless the Lakers get hurt, I cannot see a team with Aaron Gordon and Michael Porter as its second and third scoring options winning a series against the Lakers.

As good as Jokic is, Murray’s injury derailed the Nuggets’ title hopes.


Utah Jazz:


The Jazz have been a great regular-season basketball team, but regular-season basketball is different from playoff basketball. They could be compared to the 2014-2015 Atlanta Hawks, who LeBron’s Cavaliers swept in the playoffs.

The Jazz have too many one-way role players who are not good on the defensive end. That will burn them when they play a smart team like the Lakers, who are also elite defensively. The game slows down, and we have seen Donovan Mitchell try and play hero ball and fail this season.

The Jazz will get past the eighth seed if they remain the first seed, but they will lose to the Lakers if they meet up in the playoffs.

The alternative is the Los Angeles Lakers going through both the Los Angeles Clippers and Phoenix Suns.


Lakers vs Nuggets
Photo Credit: Bleacher Report

With Jamal Murray’s injury, I would consider the Los Angeles Clippers and Phoenix Suns as the two biggest challenges in the Western Conference. The Clippers have played really good basketball and have a really unique star duo of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, who needs to play better in the playoffs.

The Lakers travel to Salt Lake City to take on the Utah Jazz Monday night. Tip-off is at 7:00 pm and the game can be seen on ESPN and on Spectrum SportsNet.

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-Joe Arrigo – Franchise Sports Media

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