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SALT LAKE CITY — In the second quarter, Russell Westbrook turned back the clock. The Los Angeles Lakers veteran point guard stormed the paint and threw down a tomahawk one-handed dunk over Rudy Gobert.
As Westbrook flexed and celebrated, Gobert smiled it off — when everyone tries to body you, they are going to be successful once in a while. Westbrook's fourth quarter celebration, however, was much harder to stomach.
In the closing minute, Westbrook went coast to coast and made a scooping layup over Gobert to help cap off a dominant final 12 minutes from Los Angeles.
The Lakers held the Jazz to 17 points in the fourth quarter to come back from a 10-point second-half deficit to beat Utah 101-95 Monday at Crypto.com Arena.
After seemingly getting right against the Denver Nuggets just 24 hours earlier, is it right back to panicking for the Jazz (29-15)? That depends on how you want to look at it.
Los Angeles (22-22) had lost three in a row entering Monday and LeBron James was fresh off promising the fan base that the team would play better. Those comments alone made Monday night close to a must-win for the Lakers.
The energy was there from the start, and Westbrook looked like he was taking weeks worth of frustration out in one ridiculous highlight-reel slam.
"It was a nice dunk," Gobert said. "I just felt like I couldn't jump because he had his hand on my shoulder, but they're not going to call that; they're going to let the big man take what he deserves, and the fans enjoyed a nice dunk."
Westbrook finished with 15 points and eight rebounds in the win over the Jazz. James, who had 25 points, seven rebounds and seven assists to lead the Lakers, played center for much of the fourth quarter to help spark LA's run.
The good news for Jazz fans: Utah lost in a different way than it had during the recent four-game skid. Each game in that swoon featured a pathetic level of defensive execution. That wasn't the culprit against LA. The Lakers had an offensive rating of 106.3, which would have indicated a win in pretty much any other game this season.
On Monday, though, the Jazz's offense, which has been far and away the best in the league, stalled out. Utah shot 37% from the field and 26% from 3-point range in a dreadful offensive showing.
Outside of three players — Mike Conley (20 points on 6-of-12 shooting), Gobert (19 points on eight shots), and Joe Ingles (3 of 6 from 3-point range) — the Jazz had, arguably, their worst game of the season on the offensive end.
Donovan Mitchell was 6 of 19 from the field and 0 of 8 from the 3-point line, and was held scoreless in a critical fourth quarter. Bojan Bogdanovic was 1 of 9 from the field and 0 of 4 from behind the arc, and Jordan Clarkson finished 2 of 13 from the field and 0 of 6 from deep.
Mitchell, Bogdanovic and Clarkson combined to make no 3-pointers on 18 attempts.
It was a rough night.
"I don't know the last time me, Bojan and JC missed all of our 3s," Mitchell said. "So we make a few of them, it changes the game. Credit to them for being aggressive on the (switches), kind of clogging the paint and, unfortunately, we missed some shots."
Still, even with the offensive struggles, the Jazz were somehow in a position to win the game; that speaks more to the current state of the Lakers than anything else. The Jazz overcame a 46-point first half to take a 10-point lead in the third quarter. At that point, it looked like they'd coast to a win.
Then everything went wrong.
In what was a bit of a flashback to last year's playoff defeat to the other Los Angeles team, the Lakers went small and forced Gobert out to the perimeter. The Lakers then went on a 13-0 run fueled by 10-day contract player Stanley Johnson, who had 10 points and four rebounds in the final quarter.
Utah struggled to stop the small-small actions of the Lakers; and like so many times in the past, struggled against a switching defense.
"I thought we had too many really tough shots," Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. "I think some of the shots we had were makeable, but we made it harder on ourselves than it needed to be, as far as making better reads and moving the ball quicker and generating some better shots."
At least it was a different problem this time around — but still the same result.