Utah Jazz: Mitchell’s breakout performance guides Jazz to win over LA

It wasn’t pretty at times, but the Utah Jazz got back on track last night behind an impressive second half from Donovan Mitchell, defeating the Los Angeles Lakers 96-81 at home.

The Utah Jazz had dropped two straight games to Western Conference foes coming into last night’s matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers. With the recent struggles for the Jazz, a young Lakers team seemed to be just what the doctors ordered to help Utah get back to .500.

After a couple less-than-promising outings from this Jazz team, they seemed committed from the opening tipoff to play with more energy.  The Jazz opened up a 21-7 lead in the first nine minutes of the game behind a couple Joe Ingles threes and six easy points from Derrick Favors.

At one point the Jazz defense held the Lakers scoreless for over four and a half minutes. I don’t know what was more exciting in the first quarter, the Jazz unrelenting defense or Matt Harpring’s response to learning that the Jazz are offering “All you can eat” ticket packages.

The Jazz finished the first period with an impressive seven assists and held the Lakers to 1-of-7 from downtown.

Despite early shooting struggles, the Lakers bench kept them within striking distance with 19 first-half points and closed the gap to 56-45 at the break. Rucky Rubio was impressive on both ends of the floor, holding Lonzo “Better Than Steph Curry” Ball to six first-half points on 2-of-6 shooting while adding 15 of his own.

With what is becoming a concerning trend, the Jazz seemed to come out flat to start the second-half. The Lakers went on a 7-0 run and even brought it within 5 points. That was until….

Besides that monstrous putback, Mitchell provided a much-needed spark down the stretch to an otherwise disappointing Utah bench. Mitchell finished the game with 22 points on 9-of-16 shooting and a +/- of +17. The rest of the Jazz bench combined for a measly seven points.

Somewhere in between Donovan dunking on people and spinning through defenders in the lane was another Matt Harpring and fan favorite – free Chick-fil-A – which came late in the fourth quarter as Kentavius Caldwell-Pope stepped up to the line and missed both of his two free-throw attempts.

As always, Jazz fans went insane.

Rookie, and obvious state fan favorite, Kyle Kuzma added nine points, three assists and three boards off the Laker bench. Jazz fans gave him a warm welcome when he checked in to the game in the first quarter.

Utah’s plague of turnovers continued last night as they added another 23 to their season total, however, their timely shot making made up for the extra Laker possessions from the giveaways.

This was far from a perfect game from the Jazz, but it was just what this team needed to get back to their winning ways. Utah’s balanced scoring attack finished with five scorers in double figures, with Rubio adding 21 of his own.

With the win, the Jazz got back to 3-3 on the season and 3-0 at home. With seven of their next eight games at home, the Jazz have a chance to climb well above .500 before a tough road-trip.

The Lakers dropped to 2-4 on the season with the loss.

The Jazz are back in action Monday night against the 1-6 Dallas Mavericks.