Markkanen leads surprising Jazz past Lakers, 130-116
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Lauri Markkanen had 27 points and 12 rebounds, Jordan Clarkson added 20 points, and the Utah Jazz continued their remarkable start to the season with a 130-116 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night.
Kelly Olynyk had 18 points and Mike Conley added 15 points and 10 assists for the first-place Jazz, who are off to a 7-3 start to a year in which they were widely expected to struggle. Utah blew most of a big lead in the third quarter, but surged to victory down the stretch while getting at least seven points from eight players.
“Again, it’s a night where we had a lot of different guys contribute at a lot of different times in the game,” first-year Jazz coach Will Hardy said. “It’s just another testament to the group, and to doing it as a group.”
Russell Westbrook had 26 points and six assists in another strong performance in a reserve role for the Lakers, who dropped to 2-6 after their two-game winning streak ended. Los Angeles has not won three consecutive games since Jan. 7.
LeBron James had 17 points and 11 rebounds in a strained effort while still recovering from an illness and dealing with pain in his left foot. Anthony Davis scored 20 of his 22 points in the first half, but the Lakers’ solid defensive start to the season came crashing down against the poised, polished Jazz.
“We took a huge step backward tonight,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said of the defensive performance. “It’s the first game where I felt like we really weren’t there defensively.”
The Jazz appeared to be in for a rough year after parting ways with Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, but their roster full of longtime NBA supporting talent has been the surprise of the league while beating a series of higher-regarded teams.
“Every night, we’re getting more familiar with each other as a group, and they’re getting more familiar with me,” Hardy said. “We threw some different things out there tonight, and our guys executed it.”
The Lakers had been a solid defensive team and a poor offensive team so far this season, but their strengths and weaknesses switched against Utah.
“There’s 60,000 points in our locker room, so I’m not worried about our offense,” Ham said. “Our defensive effort has to be there. Our defense was inept at best.”
Utah went up by 16 in the third quarter before Westbrook led the Lakers nearly all the way back, scoring nine points and leading a 24-10 run while keying Los Angeles’ effort on both ends.
Westbrook was a target of many Lakers fans’ ire last season, but they serenaded him with chants of “M-V-P!” at the free throw line and “We want Westbrook!” when he was on the bench in the fourth quarter.
“They just started off playing a lot faster than us,” Westbrook said. “(We were a) step slow, and it showed. We tried to pick it up in the second half, but we put ourselves in a bad position early.”
Jazz: Talen Horton-Tucker got a tribute video during the first timeout. Horton-Tucker played the past three seasons with the Lakers after they drafted him in 2019, and he earned a ring as a rookie reserve. He was traded to Utah for Patrick Beverley in August. … Italian rookie Simone Fontecchio played in the final moments after missing four games in the NBA’s health and safety protocols.
Lakers: Davis (lower back pain) and James (foot) were both cleared medically only after pregame warmups. … Lonnie Walker scored 17 points. Troy Brown Jr. had 12.
Jazz: At Clippers on Sunday night.
Lakers: Host Cavaliers on Sunday.
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