SALT LAKE CITY — The man the Utah Jazz couldn’t stop from the jump was the man that put them away for good on Monday.
With under a minute remaining and the Jazz mounting a late comeback attempt, Lakers star Anthony Davis dribbled at the top of the key as he stared down Utah center Rudy Gobert. Davis dribbled in before stepping back, dribbling between his legs and drilling the 3 as Gobert fouled him.
That 4-point play (even with Donovan Mitchell answering back on the next Utah possession), put the finishing touches on the Los Angeles Lakers’ 116-108 win over the Jazz on Monday night at The Arena at the ESPN Wide World of Sports campus near Orlando.
Davis finished with 42 points and 12 rebounds, taking advantage of the Jazz’s lack of size. Mitchell finished with 33 points for the Jazz.
The Jazz had overcome shooting 0 of 9 from 3-point range in the first quarter and had overcome a 24-point first-half by Davis to have a 4-point lead in the third quarter.
They couldn’t overcome the six-minute span that came next.
Los Angeles went on a 19-2 run at the end of the third to help take a 10-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.
“The shots we got, I think they were good looks and we didn’t make them,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said of the run. “A lot of times that happens, they are running the other way.”
The Lakers are one of the best in the NBA in transition and that’s what the showed during the game’s crucial run. The Jazz committed six turnovers during that stretch, resulting in easy buckets on the other end.
“We got to make quicker decisions and get off the ball,” Snyder said. “I felt like we were unselfish, we attacked. They're obviously a really good defensive team and some of those mistakes hurt us on the turnovers; when you hit a couple of shots it mitigates that, and they're taking the bottom down instead of running out.”
But the shots didn’t fall for much of the night and they sure didn’t fall then. After Mitchell found Gobert for an alley-oop with 6:12 remaining, the Jazz missed their next five shots.
“I think we played very good basketball and that third quarter, we had a few more turnovers,” Gobert said. “They raised the intensity and we have to get better.”
To start the fourth, LeBron James spun into the paint and hit a jumper and then hit a deep 3-pointer. Then, with under five minutes remaining, he drained another triple to help keep the Lakers’ lead at double digits for much of the final 12 minutes.
James scored 10 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter. He also added nine assists and eight rebounds for a near triple-double.
The Jazz cut the lead to 6 points twice in the final minute, but Davis’s 4-point play ended any hope for a comeback.
Not all losses are created equal and this one was not like Saturday’s dud against Oklahoma City. Gobert didn’t lie — the Jazz, for the most part, played a very good game. The ball moved quickly with Mitchell and Mike Conley penetrating the Los Angeles defense and starting what the Jazz call the blender, with the ball moving constantly and the Lakers trying hard to keep up.
It led to open shot after open shot — just those mostly didn’t go in.
The Jazz were 12 of 43 from 3-point range with many of those misfires coming on wide-open looks.
“We had some possessions where the ball really moved,” Snyder said. “We got really wide-open 3s and we weren't able to knock them down.”
Mitchell was 4 of 10 from 3-point range and Conley was 3 of 9. The rest of the Jazz combined to shoot 5 for 25 from behind the arc. As a reminder: The Jazz have been the second-best 3-point shooting team this season. Those numbers are hard to swallow — especially when you’re playing the top team in the West.
It was Mitchell who kept the Jazz close for a long chunk of the game. Mitchell scored 21 of 33 points in the first half. He also added five rebounds and four assists in his best performance of the restart.
Conley had 24 points and eight assists and Gobert finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds.