The long Christmas break seems to have benefitted Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward and the Utah Jazz. After the rare four-day Christmastime vacation, Utah managed to eke out a 105-103 victory over the injury-decimated Los Angeles Lakers thanks to some clutch play from their fourth-year players.
With the game closely contested throughout the evening, Favors’ dunk with 2.1 seconds remaining gave the Jazz the final two-point cushion. Hayward made many crucial baskets down the stretch and while he missed his last shot, Favors cleaned up with the emphatic slam off an offensive board to win the game. The promising big man had a great game with 18 points and 14 rebounds. Hayward had game-high marks of 24 points and nine assists, along with five rebounds and three steals. The duo constitutes the now and the future of the Utah franchise.
The win helped Utah start the post-holidays on the right note. After a long five-game road trip, the Jazz enjoyed being back in the safe confines of EnergySolutions Arena. They moved to 9-23 on the year.
Long distance help: 3-point shooting has been a thorn in Utah’s side the past few seasons. This year, though, it has proven to be a difference maker in a few games, Friday’s contest being another example. While the Jazz did not scorch their opponents with a prolific performance beyond the arc, their 9-of-23 effort (39.1 percent) was instrumental. No triple was bigger than Hayward’s basket that gave Utah the late lead. Marvin Williams led the attack by going 3-of-7. Hayward and Trey Burke buried a pair apiece and Richard Jefferson and Alec Burks each made one.
The Lakers hit just 7-of-23, ended with Jodie Meeks’ missed trifecta at the buzzer.
Stars missing? No problem: The Lakers came to Salt Lake City minus the services of Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Steve Nash and Steve Blake. That did not keep Los Angeles from displaying sharp offense and scrappy play from a roster of players in the final years of their contract. Guys like Chris Kaman, Jordan Farmar, Nick Young, Meeks and Xavier Henry all did their best to replace the missing star power and scoring punch.
Kaman, who has not been in head coach Mike D’Antoni’s rotation for much of the season, poured in 15 of his 19 points in the first half. Utah’s bigs had difficulty stopping the offensive-minded center. Farmar was coming off a recent injury, but showed little rust en route to a 16-point, seven-assist, seven-rebound night. Young has been a revelation this year and dropped in 21 points on a variety of offensive moves, only to foul out midway through the fourth quarter. Swingmen Meeks and Henry chipped in 13 and 12 points, respectively.
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* Both squads made 40 field goals, but Utah assisted on 25 of its baskets compared to L.A.’s 16.
* Marvin Williams had his best game in a while, with 16 points and seven rebounds.
* Coming into Friday’s game, Burke only had 29 turnovers in 19 games. The rookie point guard had an uncharacteristic seven miscues versus the active Lakers.
David Smith provides instant analysis for Deseret News' Utah Jazz coverage. He works for LDS Philanthropies and also writes for Salt City Hoops (ESPN's Jazz affiliate). He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter at davidjsmith1232.