Lakers Survive Late Run, Fend Off Jazz to Win in Overtime

All copyright belongs to the NBA.

After surrendering a late game run by the Jazz that forced overtime, the Lakers battled through the extra period to hold on and get a much needed 135-133 victory in Utah on Tuesday night. The win moves the Lakers to 4-0 on their road trip and continues their momentum as they fight for seeding in the crowded West. 

Overtime seemed like a remote possibility after an Austin Reaves three put the Lakers up 10 with 1:43 left in regulation, but credit the shorthanded Jazz who continued to push the tempo, hit shots, and take advantage of a combination of the Lakers nursing the clock, missed shots, and a late LeBron James turnover to make enough plays to get their team there to those bonus five minutes. 

Much like in regulation, the overtime was also a back-and-forth affair, with the Jazz creating winning chances, going up by three points on multiple occasions only to have the Lakers respond with their own shot making and enough defensive resolve never allow Utah to create real separation. It continued that way until the final minute, where the game still hung in the balance.

Then, coming out of a timeout and with just a shade over 30 seconds left in OT, the Lakers gave the ball to LeBron for what would be their final offensive possession. Isolating at the top of the floor, LeBron did what he has so many times in his career, driving hard to his right hand and then spinning back left to get a tough layup in the teeth of the defense to put the Lakers up by two. On Utah’s ensuing possession, a Talen Horton-Tucker step-back jumper caromed off the rim and the Lakers were able to escape with the victory.

Beyond hitting the game-winning layup, LeBron led the Lakers in scoring with 37 points on 14-27 shooting (3-10 from behind the arc) to go along with five rebounds, and six assists to five turnovers. James was excellent in transition and when attacking the paint, leaving Jazz defenders in his wake when he got downhill and was able to get to the rim for shot attempts — just as he did on the difference making basket. 

Joining LeBron with a big scoring night was Austin Reaves, who poured in 28 points of his own on 8-13 shooting from the field and 8-8 from the foul line. Reaves was great in taking what the defense gave him all night, knocking down threes when his defender sagged off him and slipping into the cracks of the defense for interior shots when he got crowded or when the Jazz sent extra defensive attention to either LeBron or AD. Reaves added six assists and three rebounds, while boasting a team best +10 in the box score.

Also providing strong contributions were Anthony Davis and Rui Hachimura. AD, while not able to continue his string of 30+ point games, was still very productive with 21 points, 14 rebounds, and 6 assists to go along with two steals and two blocks. Rui, meanwhile, was fantastic off the bench, scoring 17 points (7-11 shooting) while grabbing six rebounds. 

Credit the Jazz, though, because despite these very good performances, they pushed the Lakers every step of the way. They challenged the Lakers defense to get stops, and throughout the course of the game did well to win more battles than they lost, by knocking down 52.2% of their shots overall and 45.5% of their three pointers. The Lakers, however, were able to make just enough plays to hang on. 

And now the Lakers will head back to Los Angeles to close out their road trip against the Clippers on Wednesday night to play a critical game that will go a long way towards determining if the Lakers make the playoffs outright or will need to try to get in through the play-in game.