The Los Angeles Lakers hosted the Utah Jazz on Tuesday night in the final group play game of the NBA In-Season Tournament.
The Lakers would clinch their group and advance to the quarterfinals with a win, and they did exactly that by destroying the Jazz 131-97. Because L.A. was a perfect 4-0 in group play, they will be one of the top two seeds in the West which means they will be at home for their quarterfinal game before the tournament shifts to Las Vegas for the semifinals and finals.
LeBron James kicked off the scoring in this one with D’Angelo Russell finding him for an easy bucket. James had it going early with a pair of free throws and a triple to give the Lakers an early 11-7 lead. The 3-pointer brought LeBron across the 39,000-point threshold, becoming the first player in league history to do so.
The Lakers were punishing the Jazz down low early as Anthony Davis, Christian Wood and Taurean Prince finished easy layups to extend the lead to double digits at 24-11.
Davis led the way with 11 points and nine rebounds in the first quarter alone and Austin Reaves drilled a late triple to give L.A. a 32-17 lead going into the second quarter. Lakers starting wing Cam Reddish was ruled out for the rest of the night after the first quarter due to groin soreness, so Max Christie got some minutes in his absence.
The Jazz went on a little run to begin the second, getting their deficit back to double digits. The Lakers responded from there though as Davis continued to push them down low while Russell connected from deep to get the lead back to 16 and force a Utah timeout.
With the Jazz struggling to keep the Lakers out of the paint and off the free throw line, resulting in a 62-41 halftime lead for L.A.
The Jazz couldn’t make any 3-pointers in the first half although they came out firing in the third quarter with two in a row to get back within 15. The Lakers again responded with another run of their own though as LeBron flushed a dunk and then he and Russell hit back-to-back 3s.
Rui Hachimura then got in on the action with back-to-back triples of his own and the Lakers would take a comfortable 102-75 lead into the fourth quarter.
There was no magic Jazz run to be had, so the Lakers would go on to earn the win. Davis had a dominant performance with 26 points, 16 rebounds, four assists and two steals while James finished with 17 points, seven rebounds and nine assists. Neither played in the fourth quarter, which is big considering the Lakers host the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday in the second end of a back-to-back.
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