On Wednesday night, the Utah Jazz lost to the Los Angeles Lakers 106-101 at Crypto.com Arena.
On the eve of the break in the All-Star Game, Jazz lost 14 points and fell victim to LeBron James’ game with 33 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists.
- In addition to his 37 points, five assists and three rebounds on Wednesday, Donavan Mitchell has now played several games with really impressive defensive games. I think over the years we’ve seen outbreaks of this kind of ball defenders that Mitchell might be, and those outbreaks have been really wonderful. What was missing was the sequence of these performances, as well as the same attention to detail outside the ball and in ancillary situations. At the end of the offensive Mitchell gets even better at reading the tone of the game and knowing when he needs to isolate and get a bucket to change the tide rather than relying on it throughout the game or at times when it’s not perfect to attack. In this, the last game before the break of all the stars, Mitchell looked at his role.
- I already know that what I say will not please jazz fans, but it deserves to be said. The Lakers honored LeBron James during Wednesday’s game for being the top scorer of all time in the NBA, which, frankly, is such an incredible feat that it’s hard for me to realize. And then he played such a game and had so many moments when he controlled everything that happened on the floor. James does so many things that seem entirely based on the belief that he has to do them. Hard 3-point punch in the face in the last minutes of the game – he looks completely calm and confident. Going on the road with almost a guarantee that it is fouled – it never occurs to you not to get up and finish on the rim. We’re talking 18 years in the league, and there are still many nights when he easily becomes the best player on the field.
- So above I’m talking about the improvement we’ve seen from Mitchell in defense, but this season we’ve seen several times that Royce O’Neill has had problems with some of the smaller craft guards in the NBA, as was the case at the beginning of the case against The Lakers with Russell Westbrook. I think that’s why when we talk about Jazz’s needs around the perimeter, it’s difficult because they need another smaller defender who can stick with players like Westbrook. At the same time, despite the fact that “Jazz” is already quite a small team, and in a situational situation it is best to recruit long flanking defenders. Fixing this problem is not easy because you need to give so many minutes. The simplest answer, the only answer that jazz is now available, is that current Jazz players just need to do better. That could mean tougher defensive tasks for Mitchell, and that definitely means O’Neill needs to work better with smaller guards.
- While Mitchell showed a pretty incredible game, the second match of the all-jazz star, Rudy Gober, spent probably his worst game of the season. But Robert’s bad performances are so few that I can’t even remember the last time he performed below what could be considered average for Robert. That’s okay, but I’d be more surprised if Gober came back after his longest absence from the game and he didn’t have a bit of dust to whip off. With all this, Gober ruined a lot in the game, which could be the seventh victory of Jazz in a row, and with some joy sent them to the break.
- It’s been three games in a row where Mike Conley hasn’t been as effective as usual. The all-star break could not have come at the best time for the veteran jazz playmaker. I hardly worry about Conley, but like Gober, he wasn’t good for Jazz on Wednesday.
- This game felt like a real disappointment for jazz. They controlled the game and had the impetus, while the Lakers bounced the ball badly and they lacked the key cog in what they were doing. Jazz looked as if they thought they had won the game and just let go. What they did well to gain double-digit leadership went away in the fourth quarter, and jazz began to fall into bad habits as soon as everything went in a spiral. Jazz could and should have played better, and they didn’t, and that’s what will be most frustrating if they watch a movie about this game.
- Anthony Davis collapsed in the first half due to what looked like a very severe ankle injury. Although the Lakers won on Wednesday, they also spent the last few days talking about a renewed sense of energy and how they felt things were turning. The Lakers announced that the X-rays showed no damage and that Davis’ injury was considered a sprain, but there is no doubt that this is significant, which will allow him to postpone it for a while. The loss of Davis, though not new territory for the Lakers, is a blow that throws them back again.