ORLANDO (ABC4 Sports) – Anthony Davis had 42 points and 12 rebounds, and the Los Angeles Lakers clinched the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference playoffs by beating the Utah Jazz 116-108 on Monday night.
The Lakers (51-15) own a six-game lead over the second-place Los Angeles Clippers and have five seeding games let before starting their first playoff run since 2013.
Donovan Mitchell scored 33 points to lead the Jazz (42-25), who have already clinched a playoff berth and is fifth in the West, a half-game behind Houston and a half-game ahead of Oklahoma City.
Davis’ final basket resulted in a 4-point play with 42 seconds left, as he sank a 3-pointer while getting fouled by Rudy Gobert and made the ensuing free throw to give the Lakers a 114-104 lead.
Utah’s Donovan Mitchell answered with a 4-point play of his own that cut the margin to 114-106 with 36 seconds remaining, but the Jazz couldn’t get any closer. Davis made two free throws with 5.2 seconds left to wrap up the scoring.
The Jazz committed a season-high 9 turnovers in the third quarter, 21 for the game, as the Lakers went on a 14-0 run to take control.
”When they turn the pressure up, we’ve got to be able to execute even better,” Mitchell said. ”We turned the ball over way too many times. They did a great job of taking us out of our actions. We went up six, they turned it up even more and next thing you know, we’re down 12 or whatever.”
Mike Conley had 24 for Utah, while Rudy Gobert added 16 points and 13 rebounds.
But the Jazz struggled from 3-point range for the third straight game, making just 12 of 43 shots from beyond the arc. The Jazz are shooting 25.9 percent from 3-point range inside the NBA bubble.
LeBron James scored 22 points, Dwight Howard had 11 and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope added 10 for the Lakers.
The Lakers were coming off a 107-92 loss to Toronto in which Davis shot just 2 of 7 and scored 14 points. Davis was much more active Monday right from the start, as he scored 13 points and shot 6 of 14 in the first quarter alone.
Davis had 24 points by halftime, marking the 20th time this season he’s scored at least 20 points in a half.
”Coach just told me to be more aggressive,” Davis said. ”He felt like, and I felt like too, that I just kind of played into Toronto’s defense, accepted the double-team. I was making the right plays, but I still have to be aggressive at the same time.”
Utah stayed close and only trailed 58-56 at halftime because it got its own stellar start from Mitchell, who scored 21 points in the first two periods.
Mitchell then connected on a 3-pointer to cap an 8-0 run by Utah to open the second half.
But the Jazz got increasingly careless with the basketball as the third quarter progressed, enabling the Lakers to seize control of the game. The Lakers scored 14 straight points and went on a 19-2 run late in the third quarter.
Even after Utah’s Emmanuel Mudiay snapped that run by hitting a 3-pointer at the buzzer, the Jazz still trailed 86-76 heading into the final period.
The Lakers stayed in front the rest of the way.
The Jazz will next take on Memphis Wednesday at 12:30 p.m.