The Lonzo Ball show made a stop in Salt Lake City on Saturday night—and it turned out to be exactly what the Jazz needed.
After two straight losses on the road, the Jazz got back on track with a gritty 96-81 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers at Vivint Smart Home Arena.
Utah (3-3) held the Los Angeles (2-4) to only 38.3 percent shooting, while L.A.’s prize rookie finished with nine points (on 3-for-10 shooting), two rebounds and four assists in 36 minutes. He also had five turnovers and a -19 net rating.
The story of the night, though, wasn’t Lonzo Ball. It was Utah’s rookie guard Donovan Mitchell, who outplayed his counterpart in every way. Mitchell scored from inside and out, punishing the rim with monster dunks, putting in floaters, grabbing steals, and canning three 3-pointers—including a dagger from the corner that gave Utah a 12-point lead with 1:48 left in the game.
Overall, Mitchell finished with 22 points (a new career high), three rebounds, two assists and three steals.
Ricky Rubio scored 21 points (a season high) and added seven rebounds and four assists. Derrick Favors double-doubled with 14 points and 10 rebounds, while Joe Ingles and Rodney Hood scored 13 points each.
Brandon Ingram (16 points) and Jordan Clarkson (15 points) were the only Los Angeles players to score in double figures.
Mitchell provided a much-needed spark off the bench—and it seemed like every play he made was spectacular. He pump-faked and then drilled a three to beat the first-quarter buzzer. Grabbed a steal and threw down a two-handed breakaway jam. Juked his way to a tear-drop floater in the lane. Drew contact on a drive, then switched the ball from his right hand to his left to make the shot (and then the free throw). Threw down a putback dunk that was the highlight of the night and absolutely brought the house down. And he hit nothing but net on a three to all but seal the victory with just under two minutes left. He did have five turnovers and five fouls in 27 minutes, but this was Mitchell’s first complete game, and he gave Jazz fans a taste of his immense potential.
The Jazz got off to a strong start, jumping out to a 21-7 lead in the first eight minutes. Ingles hit two threes and Hood drilled one of his own, while Favors hit a mid-range jumper and then scored on a dunk and a layup. Rubio, Mitchell and Alec Burks also scored for the Jazz. The Lakers shot 3-for-14 from the field during that stretch.
Two buckets from Hood—a mid-range jumper and a straight-on three—pushed Utah’s lead to 11 late in the third quarter, but the Lakers hung around with five straight points. That’s when Mitchell took over. Burks missed a three, and the rookie rose up over two defenders and threw-down a nasty one-handed putback dunk. Just seconds later, after a Jazz steal, Mitchell isolated and canned a three from the top of the key.
The Lakers, though, wouldn’t go away. They pulled back within five midway through the fourth quarter, but the Jazz kept grinding. Rubio sank a corner three and then Rudy Gobert stuffed home a putback dunk of his own. Gobert immediately poked away a steal on defense, which led to a nifty revese layup by Mitchell and a 10-point Jazz lead. The Jazz would maintain that cushion until Mitchell drilled a three with just under two minutes left to ice it.
The Jazz committed lots of turnovers (again). Tonight it was 23, which led to 24 Lakers points. Mitchell and Rubio turned the ball over five times each, while Favors gave it away four times. Hood and Joe Johnson had three turnovers each. So far this season, Utah is averaging 19.5 turnovers, up from 12.9 last season.
With the game close late, the Jazz showed they wanted it more by dominating the glass. Utah outrebounded Los Angeles 14-7 in the fourth quarter, with six of those boards coming on the offensive glass. Gobert, who had a quiet night with only six points on five attempts from the field, helped the Jazz close strong with five rebounds (two offensive) in the final eight minutes.
Utah was hot from outside, shooting 13-for-31 (41.9 percent) as a team from beyond the arc. Rubio (4-for-7), Ingles (3-for-7), Hood (3-for-7) and Mitchell (3-for-6) each made at least three 3-pointers. Los Angeles shot only 5-for-22 (22.7 percent) from 3-point range.
Coach’s Quote of the Night
“There’s going be different guys [who lead the team in scoring] on different nights. Everyone’s going to have to get used to how this team is, including me. This team is still trying to discover who it is. … I’ve said all along, it’s a work in progress. As long as our defense stays strong, we’ll have an opportunity to be competetive while we’re trying to get better.”
Jazz head coach Quin Snyder
Gobert had a game-high three blocks. … Jazz head coach Quin Synder picked up a technical foul early in the second quarter for disputing the lack of a whistle after Hood lost control of the ball (while being sandwiched between two L.A. defenders) on a drive to the hoop. … Utah outrebounded Los Angeles 49-39. … Fans in attendance earned free Chick-fil-A sandwiches when Kentavious Caldwell-Pope missed two straight free throws midway through the fourth quarter. … Ingles (+25) had the highest net rating of the night. … The Jazz shot 46.8 percent from the field as a team.
The Jazz will stay at home for a matchup against the Dallas Mavericks on Monday night. Tipoff is set for 7:00pm MT.