SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – The Utah Jazz may be playing their best basketball of the season right now.
Donovan Mitchell had 33 points and a career-high nine assists, helping the Utah Jazz beat the Los Angeles Lakers, who were without LeBron James, 113-95 on Friday night.
Utah (22-21) climbed over the .500 mark for the first since they were 7-6 back on November 12th.
“With three point guards out, I had to take the role,” Mitchell said about playing the point with Ricky Rubio, Dante Exum and Raul Neto all out with injuries. “I was just trying to find ways to keep reading, getting better and believing in in my shot and not thinking too much.”
The Jazz made 15 3-pointers in its fourth win in five games. Rudy Gobert had 12 points and a season-high 18 rebounds. Joe Ingles had 14 points and a career-high 12 boards, and Derrick Favors finished with 15 points and a season-high 13 rebounds.
All five starters scored in double figures for the Jazz.
Royce O’Neale got his first start of the season and went 5 for 12 from 3-point range on his way to a season-high 17 points.
Mitchell set a career mark with his fourth straight game with 25 or more points. Mitchell made 14 of 24 shots to go along with his nine assists.
“I understood they were going to try to stop me from scoring,” Mitchell said. “That allowed me to make those reads. When you got guys like Royce, George, Joe, Rudy, all those guys hitting shots, capable player, that’s what it’s all about. They had my back.”
Former University of Utah star Kyle Kuzma had 11 points and eight rebounds, but made just 4 of 18 shots from the field.
Los Angeles (23-20) lost for the sixth time in nine games without LeBron James in the lineup. James is out with a groin injury.
Utah broke the game open in the second quarter by holding Los Angeles without a field goal for nearly seven minutes. The Lakers trailed 41-34 after Ivica Zubac scored back-to-back baskets with 7:35 left. They did not get another basket until Javale McGee hit a short jumper with 55.1 seconds left in the half.
Utah took advantage of the drought. The Jazz used an 18-4 run to open a 59-38 lead. Mitchell fueled much of the run with his play on both ends of the court. He drove for a pair of baskets, blocked a layup attempt by Kyle Kuzma, and fed a no-look pass to Ingles in the corner to set up his first 3-pointer of the night.
Los Angeles trimmed Utah’s lead to 76-66 in the third quarter after Beasley made back-to-back baskets and hit a pair of free throws as part of a 10-0 run. The Lakers couldn’t cut it to single digits.
Utah used a 14-5 run, capped by a layup from Gobert, to put it out of reach again and take a 95-73 lead with 7:03 left in the fourth quarter.
The Jazz will try to match a season high with its third straight win Saturday at home against Chicago.