Through their first seven games of the season, the Los Angeles Lakers have been amazingly solid defensively, ranking third in defensive rating.
But on Friday evening, the Utah Jazz were able to put a huge dent in that statistic.
They blazed away in the first half with 75 points, and although L.A. made things interesting afterward, Utah flexed and came away with a 130-116 win.
Dribble penetration was a big reason the Lakers lost, and it led to the Jazz outscoring them in the paint 64-56.
On the bright side, L.A. was able to shoot well from 3-point land, making 42.3 percent of their attempts from downtown, but its defense seemed almost non-existent.
Anthony Davis: B
Davis showed very good energy on both ends of the floor in the first half, but he faded afterward, scoring just two points after halftime.
The Lakers need to do a better job of not just getting him the ball in the low post, but also of getting him the ball while on the move to the basket in order to make the game easier for him.
He finished with 22 points on 9-of-17 overall shooting and 1-of-2 from 3-point range, eight rebounds, two assists and two blocked shots.
LeBron James: C+
After admitting he was suffering from some sort of infection during Wednesday’s win over the New Orleans Pelicans, James showed much better energy on Friday, but it didn’t translate into results, at least not offensively.
He had 11 rebounds and eight assists, but he shot just 7-of-19 from the field, and for the second straight game he missed all of his 3-point attempts.
Los Angeles needs to find a way to lessen his workload offensively and find other players who will generate points when it needs a score.
Troy Brown Jr.: B-
Brown went 4-of-10 from the field and 2-of-6 from beyond the arc, along with two rebounds and one steal in 22 minutes.
Patrick Beverley: C+
Beverley made a bit of a contribution offensively by making both of his shot attempts, including a 3-pointer, while also grabbing five rebounds.
But his defense left a lot to be desired, as Utah’s guards lit up the scoreboard. Mike Conley was 6-of-11 for 15 points, Jordan Clarkson was 9-of-19 for 20 points and Collin Sexton was 7-of-13 for 17 points.
Lonnie Walker IV: A
Once again, Walker gave the Lakers a spark by attacking the basket, getting out and finishing in transition and hitting from the outside.
He went 6-of-12 overall and 2-of-3 from downtown to score 17 points. Right now, L.A. is getting immense value from him.
Matt Ryan: C+
Two nights after playing the role of hero in the Lakers’ miraculous win over the Pelicans, Ryan flamed out a bit. He was 1-of-4 from the field and 1-of-3 from downtown and scored just three points in 10 minutes.
Wenyen Gabriel: B
In 11 minutes, Gabriel contributed four rebounds and five points by making his lone field-goal attempt and hitting 3-of-4 from the free-throw line.
He may not have a ton of basketball skills, but he’ll bring some palpable energy, which attracts positive results for him and his team.
Juan Toscano-Anderson: D
After missing the last three games, Toscano-Anderson was ineffective versus Utah. In 15 minutes, he did not attempt a single shot, and he finished with two points, one rebound and one blocked shot.
Russell Westbrook: A-
Once again, Westbrook came off the bench and not only gave L.A. some energy and tempo, but he was highly efficient, even from the outside.
He went 9-of-14 overall, 3-of-5 from 3-point land and 7-of-7 from the charity stripe to finish with 28 points, as well as three rebounds, two steals and six assists in 29 minutes.
At one point in the third quarter, the fans at Crypto.com Arena chanted “M-V-P” when Westbrook was shooting a free throw. Could it be that Lakers fans are doing an about-face as far as how they feel about him?
Austin Reaves: B
Reaves seems to be improving defensively. He had multiple nice defensive stands, which included a steal midway through the third quarter that led to a fast-break dunk by James.
The undrafted wing ended with five points, two rebounds, three assists, one steal and two blocked shots in 22 minutes. He made his only shot attempt, which was a contested 3-pointer.
Damian Jones, Kendrick Nunn and Max Christie: Incomplete
All three played one minute each in garbage time toward the end of the game. None of them scored a single point.