At this point, the Jazz feel like they’re done surprising people and playing basketball.
Behind five double-digit players, Utah took the lead in the fourth quarter before finally defeating the Los Angeles Lakers 130-116 on Friday night.
“I think we made some quick decisions tonight offensively,” head coach Will Hardy said. “We moved the ball both sides of the pitch and used our speed a bit in the half court. … We threw different things tonight and the guys executed really well. I’m proud of them.”
Here are five things to know after the win:
1.) Caution Below
A few days ago, Malik Beasley kicked off the Lauri Markkanen-All-Star hype train by saying he thought his teammate deserved the prestigious honor.
While Markkanen’s numbers certainly look Western Conference All-Star worthy — even more so with Utah sitting 7-3 this season — the 7-footer from Finland still needs some “wow” moments to stay. in the minds of voters.
In addition to picking up his fifth double-double of the season with 27 points, 13 rebounds and four assists, the highlight of the night came in the first quarter.
After catching the ball with a cut to the hoop, Markkanen took two steps and launched a thunderous left-handed dunk at Anthony Davis (fourth in the NBA at 2.3 blocks per game). It was the kind of game that sticks in the minds of All-Star voters and can serve as a continued launch point for Markkanen’s candidacy.
“Yeah, 27 points, 13 rebounds, zero turnovers. … I think he did a great job on both sides,” Hardy said of Markkanen. “I think Lauri does a lot of things that show up in the stat sheet, and he does a lot of things that don’t. … His defense probably doesn’t get talked about enough.”
2.) Hardy wins the challenge
With nearly two minutes of scoreless play midway through the fourth quarter, Utah clung to an eight-point lead — but the environment inside Crypto.com had the momentum going. Lakers.
After Jordan Clarkson fired into the lane and the ball caught on the rim, Clarkson jumped up to tap the ball before it fell through the hoop. Although he claimed he hadn’t touched it, officials saw it differently and whistled the basket interference – nullifying the shot and inflaming the crowd in Los Angeles.
Clarkson was adamant that he hadn’t touched the ball, signaling Hardy to contest the call. Without hesitation, and knowing how important the moment was, Hardy trusted his veteran player and took him at his word. It was the right call as Clarkson never touched the ball, putting two more points on the board and silencing the crowd.
It’s the kind of play that completely swung the Jazz’s momentum — and, more importantly, a head coach trusting his players in the biggest moments.
3.) Conley owns the final six minutes
After Hardy’s successful challenge with 6:26 left, Mike Conley entered the game. Until then, the veteran playmaker had thrived as a playmaker rather than aggressively chasing his own shot.
This was ultimately not the case.
After LeBron James got the crowd back into the game with a bucket, Conley silenced everyone with a clock-beating three-pointer on the ensuing possession, kicking off a personal run 5 -0. He then put his last stamp on the game minutes later, ending a 5-0 Lakers run with a three-point play to give the Jazz a 13-point lead with 2:22 to go.
“Mike understands the moment,” Hardy said. “He had sat down for a little while to rest and get his legs back. … Then when Mike came in he looked fresh and he really had a glow. I don’t need to say much to Mike at this point on what’s going on in the game and understanding those moments.”
4.) JC takes flight
While Conley’s three-point play might have been the final nail in Los Angeles’ coffin, Clarkson was the exclamation point with one of the best plays of the season.
Beating Lonnie Walker – who just punched in a three-pointer to give the Lakers some hope – off the dribble, Clarkson took flight and launched a thunderous two-handed dunk that sent the Utah bench wild.
While the dunk was impressive, nothing compares to the photos captured by Jazz team photographer Gabby Stockard. The footage is some of the best anyone will ever see and captures the excitement of Clarkson and the desperation of Los Angeles.
5.) Sniper Night
One of the greatest statistical seasons a player can achieve is joining the coveted 50-40-90 club – 50+% from the field, 40+% from three-point territory and 90+% from the free-throw line .
Although it wasn’t all season, Utah was so effective on offense that as a team, they had a 50-40-90 night. The Jazz shot 50.5 percent (52-for-103) from the floor, 42.5 percent (17-for-40) from beyond the arc and 90 percent (9-for-10) from the charity strip on Friday night.
To make the night even more impressive, the Lakers have one of the best defenses in the NBA, ranking No. 2 in defensive rankings. All in all, a great offensive performance from the Jazz and hopefully a sign of bigger and better things around the corner.
“I think the spacing is the biggest difference for us. … We’re so selfless that the ball moves and resonates, and any of the five guys can beat you at the dribble and make plays,” Conley said.
If you want to see the rematch between the Jazz and the Lakers on Monday night in Salt Lake City, click HERE for tickets.