Nobody said this season was going to be easy. To start the season though, the Los Angeles Lakers fought back to claim a big victory over the high-powered Houston Rockets, giving head coach Luke Walton his first win in the purple and gold.
On Friday night in Salt Lake City, the youthful Lakers battled on the court once more. Ultimately, however, they fell short losing to the Utah Jazz 96-89.
George Hill was immense for the Jazz, ending the night as the leading scorer with 23 and a cool +8. He also grabbed three rebounds, three assists and one steal.
Game begins quickly
The opening quarter of the game was played at a frenetic pace. Both sides attempted 21 shots with the Jazz making one more -- 11 -- than Los Angeles. That showed how keyed in the offenses were early in the night, as the two sides blitzed each other for 55 total points in the first quarter.
Nick Young started out hot; he scored the Lakers first points of the game. In fact Young, produced eight of his team's first 10 points. Young got fouled while attempting a three point shot and subsequently made all three free throws from the line. The former USC star hit his first three pointer. After that, however, Young cooled off, scoring only three more points the remainder of the game.
Utah and the Lakers continued to go toe-to-toe in the opening 12 minutes as the two constantly exchanged leads. Each time one team ran ahead, the other answered right back.
In the second quarter, the Jazz pulled ahead slightly as their defense tightened up. They weren't great shooting from the field, however. Utah attempted eight shots from behind the three point and made zero; Lakers also missed all four.
Utah extends lead to start second half
The Lakers struggled out of the gates to begin the second half, allowing Utah to open up a significant advantage. Hill began to show life, driving to the hoop for an easy layup to push the Jazz lead to eight before bringing down a defensive board on the Lakers next possession.
Then, Rodney Hood extended Utah’s lead to double digits when he made an attempt from the floor. Hood also nailed a shot from deep to after the Lakers started to make a little run.
After Utah went up 11, Marcelo Huertas hit a big shot to stop the Jazz momentum. Lou Williams continued the swing by drilling a three to move within just six points.
Towards the end of the game, though, the Lakers went on a couple of runs trying to get back into the contest. They slashed the Jazz’ lead to just two points cutting it to 83-81. However, Hill, who had been instrumental for the Jazz all night, hit two big shots to give the home side breathing room going down the stretch.
While the Lakers fought, they just could not pull off a comeback for the second consecutive game. That would have been a big confidence booster for the young squad, knowing that they can go to a tough environment and come away with the win. But that was not to be, at least not for tonight.
The Los Angeles Lakers continue their road trip as they travel to face the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday afternoon.
Utah, on the other hand, will hit the road to face the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday.