Lakers player grades: L.A. gets silenced by the Jazz without LeBron James

The Los Angeles Lakers left Southern California for a quick trip to Salt Lake City to play the red-hot Jazz on Saturday. They had lost three of their last five games, all of which were played at Arena, and they came into Saturday’s game in 11th place in the Western Conference at 19-20.

The Jazz came in with a 20-20 mark and were one spot ahead of L.A., and they had won 10 of their last 12 games while averaging 124.7 points a game during that span.

The Purple and Gold got some bad news before the opening tip when it was announced that LeBron James had been ruled out due to an ankle injury. Yet early on, it seemed as if perhaps they would pull off a surprising upset.

Both teams came out hot offensively, but the Lakers were especially hot, as they shot 62.5% in the first quarter to 50.0% for the Jazz and led 39-31 after the first 12 minutes. Los Angeles led by as many as 12 points in the second quarter before the Jazz chipped away at that advantage and cut it to 67-64 at halftime. They then surged ahead 85-79 just past the midway point of the third quarter and took a 100-95 lead into the final period.

The Lakers simply couldn’t get stops down the stretch, and they fell, 132-125. Despite having a healthy edge in free throws in the first half, the Lakers suffered through a parade of Utah foul shots in the second half. They committed a cluster of fouls in the fourth quarter that prevented them from regaining a lead and resulted in the home team going 36-of-39 from the foul line for the game.

They also lost this contest in terms of the other effort categories as well — they were outscored 27-14 in fast-break points and outrebounded 52-40, and they gave up 20 second-chance points.

The Lakers are now 19-21 on the season and are a full game behind the 10th-place Houston Rockets. One now has to wonder if they will even reach the play-in tournament, let alone make the playoffs and make some noise there.

Anthony Davis: C

With James out, the Lakers needed an all-hands-on-deck effort offensively, starting with Davis. He was quiet offensively in the first quarter and didn’t score his first basket until there was 2:07 left in the first quarter. He made just one of his first six shots as L.A. started to give up its lead in the second period.

He never got going offensively, as the Jazz didn’t allow him to post up often and made him play against more than one defender. Still, Davis got enough decent looks, but he missed a number of chippies that he often makes. He finished shooting just 5-of-21 from the field, giving him only 15 points, and he also committed six turnovers.

On the other hand, he responded well in one way to their defensive strategy by dishing off 11 assists, and he also grabbed 15 rebounds, giving him a triple-double. Davis also helped out defensively with four blocked shots. However, in the fourth quarter, he and his teammates couldn’t contain Utah’s dribble penetration, which was a factor in them committing 10 fouls and giving up 19 free throw attempts in the final quarter.

Cam Reddish: Incomplete

As was the case in Thursday’s loss to the Phoenix Suns, Reddish only lasted a short stretch before having to leave due to knee soreness. He played 11 minutes on Saturday and had one rebound while missing his only shot attempt.

Taurean Prince: B/B-plus

Prince helped the Lakers’ cause by making half of his four 3-point attempts and doing a good job of attacking closeouts to get into the paint on occasion. He finished with 12 points on 5-of-8 overall shooting plus one rebound, one assist and one blocked shot.

Austin Reaves: B

Reaves made each of his first six shots and scored 14 points in the first half to help L.A. get off to a strong start. He twisted his ankle early in the fourth quarter, and although he remained in the game, he fouled out a few minutes later.

At least one of his late fouls seemed to be of the ticky-tack variety, but due to his foul trouble, he was unable to help the Lakers with the type of big shots and plays he tends to make.

The undrafted guard also had four rebounds and two assists in 31 minutes.

D'Angelo Russell: A-plus

Russell returned to the starting lineup on Saturday with James out. He was outstanding early on, as he hit seven of his first 11 shot attempts and scored 18 points in the first half to go along with five assists.

The guard continued his onslaught in the second half, and he was usually L.A.’s only consistent offensive threat. But he was an awesome one, and he shot 15-of-26 overall and 6-of-11 from 3-point range to score 39 points on the night.

Russell also dropped eight dimes, and he even blocked two shots and added one steal. One has to wonder if he’s playing himself back into head coach Darvin Ham’s regular starting lineup.

Rui Hachimura: A

In his first game back from an injured calf that forced him to miss five contests, Hachimura was terrific. He shot 6-of-12 to score 17 points in just 19 minutes, and he did a good job of mixing up his offensive attack. While he made several layups and dunks, he was also able to convert a couple of mid-range shots from further away in the paint.

Christian Wood: A-minus

Wood continued his resurgence on Saturday. He scored 15 points on 5-of-10 shooting and grabbed nine rebounds while adding one assist and one steal in 22 minutes.

It appears he has become L.A.’s main backup big man, especially since Jaxson Hayes, its only true center outside of Davis, has hardly played lately.

Jarred Vanderbilt: C/C-plus

Vanderbilt hit both of his shot attempts on Saturday, one of which was a 3-pointer. But in 23 minutes, he had just three rebounds, and this was a night where the Lakers needed more help from him in that department.

Max Christie: C-plus/B-minus

In 14 minutes, Christie attempted two shots and hit one of them, which was a 3-pointer. He also had three assists and one steal.

This was a game in which the Lakers could’ve used a little more production from Christie, especially since he was on the floor in the third quarter when Utah started to take control.

Skylar Mays: C-minus/C

The newest member of the Lakers got 10 minutes of playing time on Saturday, and surprisingly, he was on the floor for two stints in the fourth quarter. He had two assists, one rebound and one steal, but he missed both of his field-goal attempts.

Mays also committed a cheap off-the-ball foul early in the fourth quarter that resulted in a free throw for Jordan Clarkson and possession for the Jazz.

Story originally appeared on LeBron Wire