SALT LAKE CITY — It was back and forth. Shot for shot. Sloppy pass for sloppy pass.
And in the end, the Los Angeles Lakers wound up with all the marbles — or, in this case, ping pong balls — by beating the Utah Jazz 119-104.
Neither team was the favorite going into Monday’s match as both teams were actually searching for a loss since it would help their chances in finding a better spot in this summer’s NBA Draft. Still, somehow, the Lakers found a way to silence the Jazz in the final quarter.
Trey Burke and Alec Burks combined well in the guard spots as Burks notched 22 points and Burke contributed with seven dimes and his own 17 points. As Gordon Hayward fell apart in the second half, both guards worked well to lift the flat crowd and keep it relatively close — until Nick Young of the Lakers went off for 41 points and pushed the Jazz into darkness for their final home game of the season.
Much of the production came from the forward spots as Hayward continued his season-long trend of carrying the Jazz on his back with Marvin Williams out. Hayward cooled down in the later moments in the game, but Derrick Favors was strong, too, from the forward spot. Neither played particularly well in what was a sloppy, back-and-forth affair, but they did well enough to keep Utah close.
Enes Kanter started slow but finished the game with 19 points and 12 rebounds, putting him at the head of the centers in efficiency. He was consistent throughout and surely earned the heavy amount of minutes he played.
The Jazz actually did pretty well off the bench, but most of the minutes went to the starters. Richard Jefferson and Jeremy Evans got their fair share off the pine. Diante Garrett didn’t do much in the 14 minutes he played, though.
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Utah coach Tyrone Corbin played a good lineup against the Lakers, switching Hayward to a forward role and slotting Alec Burks in at the two spot. Corbin had trouble keeping his team focused, as lazy defense plagued the Jazz in the fourth quarter, which ultimately led to the loss.
From the opening tip-off, the Lakers were the more vibrant and hardworking team. Not all was pretty, but Los Angeles was a step ahead of the Jazz nearly everywhere. Utah was unbalanced and looked deflated consistently, easily playing the part of a team searching for a sole loss. The Lakers, though, especially with Nick Young’s points, always looked like a team fighting for a win.