Los Angeles returns to winning after 3 defeats. James puts in 25 points, but the difference in the final is Stanley Johnson, 25, on the roster with a 10-day contract
“Sorry, Lakers fans: we will be better.” Every promise from LeBron is in debt, even those tweeted in the middle of the night. The Lakers keep their promise: against Utah they are better, much better than the team humiliated in Denver on Saturday, taking the victory that closes the streak of three defeats and brings the Lakers record in a draw, 22 won and 22 lost. It was a team victory, with the defense able to keep the Jazz, the best NBA attack, below 100 points for only the fourth time this season and just 17 points in the fourth period. It was a win with an unexpected protagonist: the hero of the 101-95 of the Crypto.com Arena is not LeBron James but Stanley Johnson, who opens his third 10-day contract with the Lakers with whom he is relaunching his career. .
Johnson’s fourth period, built on 10 points and a tight focus on defense, is the jolt needed by a team that was going under after playing better than their opponents throughout the game. Johnson first fueled the run that catapulted the Lakers from -9 to +4, then made sure the Jazz offense (held at an unusual 36.9% from the field) continued to throw tantrums as it had done for the rest of the game. . 25 years old, Johnson seemed lost to the NBA before the Lakers caught him with one of those exceptions granted at the peak of the pandemic: coach Vogel found in him an inexhaustible scooter with which to prop up the defense. If Johnson is the unexpected hero, LeBron was the usual certainty: 14th game in a row with 25 points or more, to which he adds 7 rebounds and 7 assists. Westbrook also did well, appropriately rekindled in the final to seal the match. Beating Utah does not suddenly erase all the Lakers’ evils, but it is yet another step in the right direction: the problem of LeBron and his teammates is that the many first positive steps have never been followed by a concrete change of course.
Out of tune
Utah (29-15) blatantly fought in attack, losing for the fifth time in the last 6 games and returning to ring that mini alarm bell that worries coach Snyder and that had prompted Rudy Gobert to point out to his teammates that Golden State and Phoenix in the West are on another level. The Frenchman, 19 points and 16 rebounds, was with Mike Conley (20 points with 5 triples) the best of his, but his overwhelming physical power was not enough to protect the Jazz, with the Lakers taking advantage of every moment of rest in bench or collective error to punish Utah. Male star Donovan Mitchell, 13 points with 6/19 shooting, disastrous Bojan Bogdanovic (5 points and 1/9 from the field) and Jordan Clarkson (9 points with 2/13 shooting), unable to be the usual valid offensive alternative . Utah continues to postpone the appointment with success number 30 this season: something has jammed, and coach Snyder must quickly understand what
The Lakers try to break the balance in the first quarter with a 13-1 run in the second that helps them reach 48-37 with LeBron 2’27 “from rest. The second half restarts with the hosts ahead 52-46, but Utah changes gears in the final third quarter and 48 ”from the siren touches the 78-68 with Ingles. Sterile reaction of the yellow-violet and Gobert from the line makes 83-74 Jazz with 9’37 ”from the clock. It is the moment of the Lakers turning point, the one signed by Johnson: it is he with 8 points who is the engine of the 13-0 partial with which Vogel’s team overturns everything, it is always he in the final with his defense who makes sure that the attack of the Jazz you do not find the lost harmony in the sprint. The Lakers start the last minute ahead 95-89: Utah tries with Conley from the line to get closer, but a solitary incursion by Westbrook with extra free leads the yellow-violet to 98-90 with 40 ”from the end. Just enough to get that oxygen that the Lakers needed so much.
LA Lakers:James 25 (7/12 of two, 3/8 of three, 4/8 free throws), Westbrook 15, Johnson 15. Rebounds: Howard 8, Westbrook 8. Assists: James 7.
Utah: Conley 20 (1/3, 5/9, 3/4 tl), Gobert 19, Mitchell 13, O’Neale 13. Rimbalzi: Gobert 16. Assist: Mitchell 7.
January 18, 2022 (change January 18, 2022 | 10:23)
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