SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – Ricky Rubio appears to be on a mission, and that mission is to get the Utah Jazz back to the NBA playoffs.
Rubio scored 25 of his 31 points in the first half, as the Jazz moved up to the 4th seed in the Western Conference with a 117-110 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers.
”He was taking the right shots,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. ”There have been times where we have talked to Ricky about it, where he needs to score when the play and the game presents itself to him, and it did tonight.”
“He’s hot, man,” said Derrick Favors who scored 15 points and pulled down 8 rebounds. “He’s got the hot hand right now. He’s been aggressive since he came back from his little injury. Probably just wanted to take a rest, I don’t know man. He’s been hot, man. He’s been playing great.”
“I mean, of course resting helps to get more legs in the shot but like I said, it’s been not just one day,” said Rubio. “It’s been a month. Every seed, every game matters. I think we gotta focus more on our defense and play 48 minutes.”
Donovan Mitchell score 26 points, the 44th time this season the rookie has scored at least 20 points.
Six Jazz players scored in double figures, including Rudy Gobert, who had 12 points, 16 rebounds and 5 assists.
The Jazz (45-33) jumped over Oklahoma City into the 5th spot after winning for the 26th time in their last 31 games.
Derrick Favors added 15 points and 8 rebounds, while Joe Ingles added 13 points and 7 assists.
Utah fell behind early, 9-0, but rallied back with a 41-point second quarter to take a 65-60 lead into the half.
Rubio scored 15 points over the final 6:28 of the second quarter. He went 4 of 4 from the field and 5 of 5 from the free throw line in that stretch. His final two baskets came on back-to-back possessions in the final minute before halftime and gave Utah a five-point lead.
Utah stretched the lead out to as many as 15 points, but former University of Utah star Kyle Kuzma helped the Lakers mount a rally. Kuzma had 26 points, as L.A. got to within four points, but the Jazz held on.
Utah shot 48 percent from the floor and outrebounded the Lakers, 47-39.
Utah next hosts the Los Angeles Clippers Thursday night.