LOS ANGELES (ABC4 Sports) – A season of unprecedented change has come to an end for the Utah Jazz.
LeBron James hit eight 3-pointers while scoring 36 points, Anthony Davis had 16 points and 13 rebounds, and the Los Angeles Lakers surged into the postseason as the seventh seed in the Western Conference with a 128-117 victory on Sunday.
The Lakers never pulled away from the Jazz, who stayed within one possession down the stretch despite resting several key players. James hit his sixth 3-pointer with 3:32 to play and added his seventh with 1:07 left before burying the eighth with 39 seconds to play, finishing one shy of his single-game high in 3’s.
Kris Dunn had 26 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists while Kelly Olynyk scored 23 points for the Jazz, who wrapped up their first non-playoff season in seven years with their ninth loss in 11 games. After trading Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert in the offseason ahead of what appeared to be a thorough franchise rebuild, Utah still stayed in playoff contention for most of this season under rookie head coach Will Hardy until a March swoon.
“We’ve just gone out and played our hearts out every single night, regardless of who is in and who is out,” Hardy said. “And it was fun. I think our team played with a tenacity and a competitiveness, but they also played with a level of joy and we had a lot of laughs along the way.”
Simone Fontecchio added 20 points for Utah, which was without its top three scorers due to injuries and rest. The Jazz wrapped up the season without Lauri Markkanen, Collin Sexton, rookie Walker Kessler, Rudy Gay and former Lakers Jordan Clarkson and Talen Horton-Tucker.
Jazz rookie Ochai Agbaji was ejected in the third quarter, apparently for yelling at an official and throwing the ball too aggressively in his direction. Agbaji had eight points on 4-for-13 shooting.
“We’ve got a great group of guys who like playing together,” Olynyk said. “Young, talented, energetic. Not only the players, but the coach as well. So we’re looking forward to a great summer and coming back and getting back after it.”
Olynyk shot Utah’s first free throw early in the third quarter. Juan Toscano-Anderson had three points in 19 minutes against the team that traded him in February.