SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – The Los Angeles Lakers had plenty of energy left for the second night of a difficult back-to-back, and the Utah Jazz looked like a tired team.
Anthony Davis scored 26 points, LeBron James added 20 points and 12 assists for his 17th double-double in 22 games, and the Lakers dominated on both ends of the court in a 121-96 victory over the Jazz on Wednesday night.
A night after winning in Denver, the Lakers pushed the pace on offense and closed down passing lanes and contested shots even while leading by double digits throughout the second half.
“We knew we had to bring energy,” James said. “Even with a back-to-back, we still got to have energy and we got to push the pace. We’re very good when we get stops and we run. … It’s very important for us to push the pace, but it starts with our defense and we got defensive stops.”
Rajon Rondo paced a strong bench effort with 14 points, and season highs of 12 assists and eight rebounds.
The Lakers burned the Jazz repeatedly in transition, outscoring Utah 32-5 in fast-break points. Much of that came as a result of high-energy defense. Los Angeles totaled 21 points off 19 Jazz turnovers.
“We’ve got a good team,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “We have high aspirations. We’re trying to keep a game-to-game, stay-in-the-moment focus throughout the year.”
Donovan Mitchell scored 29 points and Bojan Bogdanovic added 23 for Utah. The Jazz lost for the fifth time in six games.
Utah shot 45.2% from 3-point range but forced just seven turnovers — a season-low for the Lakers — and allowed Los Angeles to shoot 51% from the field and 48% from 3-point range.
“At the beginning of the year there was a determination and a focus defensively, and it showed,” Utah coach Quin Snyder said. “More recently, we’ve allowed other things, whether it be a missed shot, perception of a bad call, a turnover — everything is lingering. Our inability to get to the next play has hurt our defense.”
The Jazz opened the game with baskets on four straight possessions and took an 11-5 lead. Bogdanovic got things going with back-to-back 3-pointers. Utah eventually cooled down. Los Angeles did not.
Behind a 9-0 run, the Lakers surged out to a 30-20 lead. Davis scored back-to-back baskets to punctuate the run. Los Angeles was just getting started.
The Lakers used a 16-4 run, sparked by a buzzer-beating 3-pointer at the end of the first quarter from Kyle Kuzma, to stake out a 46-30 lead early in the second quarter. James fueled the bulk of the run with three baskets over a minute.
“We’ve got to come in and look at ourselves in the mirror, and there’s stuff we’ve got to do better,” Mitchell said. “We’ve got to hold each other accountable when it’s necessary.”
Los Angeles maintained a double-digit lead throughout the second half. The Lakers led by as many as 25 points after halftime.
Utah shot 50% from the field in the third quarter and trimmed the deficit to 68-57 on a runner from Jeff Green. That’s as close as the Jazz got. Los Angeles countered with a 10-2 run capped off by JaVale McGee’s alley-oop dunk to go up 78-59 midway through the quarter.
“We’ve been struggling coming out in the third quarter, giving teams more life,” Davis said. “We gave it up a little bit tonight and then we kind of found it again.”