In a week full of dramatic, nail-biting games, Sunday was more of the same as the Utah Jazz-Los Angeles Lakers match-up went down to the wire. And much like the past two outings, the Jazz emerged triumphant, stealing a rare Staples Center win over the vaunted Lakers squad, 103-99.
In winning in what has traditionally been one of Utah’s most difficult venues, Tyrone Corbin’s team showed tremendous tenacity, professional poise, and terrific teamwork. Six players scored in double-figures for the victors.
Statistical heroes: Sometimes numbers do not fully illustrate a player’s impact, whether positive or negative, on a game’s outcome. Sunday, the stats did a pretty good job for the Utah Jazz. Here are some examples:
- Paul Millsap absolutely stuffed the stat sheet: 24 points, nine rebounds, five assists, five steals, and two blocked shots, while not committing a single turnover. He was brilliant as the glue binding the cohesive team effort.
- Rookie center Enes Kanter had one of his most complete games as a pro, putting in a career-high 17 points, while adding eight rebounds in 23 minutes. Going against Lakers All-Star Andrew Bynum during most of his stint, Kanter was not intimidated at all — battling throughout. Bynum scored 33 points, but Kanter made him work when the two were pitted against each other.
- Fellow rookie Alec Burks also poured in a career-high 17 points to go with three boards. He did most of his damage in the fourth quarter, scoring 13 while guarding Kobe Bryant most of that stretch.
- Devin Harris was quietly excellent, orchestrating the Jazz offense with 12 points, nine assists (tying a season-high), and three steals.
He also spent a lot of time pleading his case to the referees. There were several instances were a visibly frustrated Bryant demonstrably showed his displeasure with both calls and no-calls.
Free throw disparity: Usually teams that outshoot their opponents 40-22 from the free throw line come out on top. That was not the case Sunday for the Lakers. Los Angeles had three players — Bynum, Bryant, and new addition Ramon Sessions — with nine or more attempts from the charity stripe. Utah was called for 27 fouls compared to the Lakers’ 20.
- Utah had an excellent assist to turnover ratio, dishing our 28 dimes to just 13 miscues. The Jazz assisted on 65.1 percent of the team’s made field goals.
- Meanwhile, the Lakers had an uncharacteristic 24 turnovers.
- Each team had important contributors go scoreless: the Lakers’ Steve Blake (27 minutes) and Utah’s Hayward (20).
- The two teams combined to score 110 points in the paint. This was helped greatly as the two franchises managed to make just four of 23 three-point attempts.
- Millsap has three or more steals in six of the past seven games.
David Smith is providing instant analysis for Deseret News' Utah Jazz coverage this season. He works for LDS Philanthropies and also blogs for the Utah Jazz 360 website. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at davidjsmith1232.