Lakers player grades: L.A. puts the Jazz away in the second half

The Los Angeles Lakers took the floor in Salt Lake City against the Utah Jazz looking to solidify their recent momentum while going into the All-Star break the right way — with another win. They had won five of their previous six games and 10 of their last 15, and their offense had been producing at an elite level during the time period.

LeBron James sat out this contest, and thus one had to wonder if the team would struggle without him.

The Lakers jumped out to a 10-point lead in the first quarter and stretched it to 14 with 9:04 left in the second quarter. But they allowed Utah to claw itself back into the game, as it had trouble defending the paint and corraling defensive rebounds. Their lead shrunk to 70-69 at halftime, and while they shot 56.5% from the field in the first two quarters, Utah outrebounded them 23-14.

Los Angeles reasserted itself late in the third quarter with 12 unanswered points to lead 108-92 going into the final frame. It only increased its lead afterward, and it ended up with an impressive 138-122 victory to improve to 30-26 on the season.

The Purple and Gold shot an outstanding 57.3% overall and 46.2% from 3-point range on the night, and even better, they committed a grand total of just eight turnovers. They also had a sizable advantage at the free throw line and held the Jazz to just 13-of-39 shooting from downtown.

The Lakers will be off until next Thursday, Feb. 22 when they will visit the Golden State Warriors.

Anthony Davis: A-plus

After scoring 16 points in the first half, Davis really got going in the third quarter. At one point, he scored 10 straight points for the Lakers as they rebuilt a lead, and he had 17 points and nine rebounds in that period alone. He finished with 37 points on 13-of-25 shooting and 10-of-13 from the free throw line, 15 rebounds, one assist and two blocked shots.

The Lakers needed Davis to step up and dominate with James out, and that’s exactly what he did on Wednesday.

Taurean Prince: C

Prince was in the starting lineup in place of James on Wednesday. He did a good job of attacking off the dribble and not falling in love with the outside shot in this game.

He shot 4-of-8 from the floor and hit a 3-pointer, giving him 11 points to go along with three rebounds, one assist and one block in 33 minutes.

D'Angelo Russell: A

Russell scored just 11 points on 4-of-8 shooting against the Jazz, but he was excellent in other ways. He had 10 assists in the first half, and he finished with 17 dimes, which was a new career high for him. He also committed just two turnovers while helping out in a department he’s not known for excelling in with nine rebounds.

Austin Reaves: A

Reaves did a good job of attacking the basket early in Wednesday’s game. After scoring a dozen points in the first half, he started to rack up plenty of assists in the third quarter. He ended up dishing off seven assists on the night, which continued a recent trend of him doing a nice job of hitting the open man.

Offensively, the guard was very efficient. He was 9-of-13 overall and 3-of-5 from beyond the arc, giving him 22 points. He also chipped in four rebounds and three steals in 34 minutes.

Rui Hachimura: A-plus

This was simply a special night for Hachimura. He was hot early, and he was a major reason why the Lakers were able to establish an early lead. He scored a team-high 21 points in the first half, which was a first-half career high for him, and he did an excellent job of taking defenders off the dribble to score in the paint.

The Japan native surpassed his previous career-high of 30 points midway through the fourth quarter, and he ended up with a total of 36 points while shooting 13-of-19 overall and a sizzling 6-of-8 from downtown.

After being up and down offensively for much of this season, Hachimura seems to be figuring things out. He had 15 points on Tuesday against the Detroit Pistons after scoring 21 last Friday versus the New Orleans Pelicans, and Wednesday’s game was the ninth time in his last 12 games he had scored in double figures.

Spencer Dinwiddie: B-plus

So far in two games with the Lakers, Dinwiddie has been very solid. On Wednesday, he shot 4-of-6 from the floor and 2-of-4 from 3-point land to score 10 points. He also dished off four assists and got two steals while committing only one turnover in 28 minutes.

If this type of play will hold up, the team has gotten itself almost the type and caliber of player it was hoping to trade for, only without having to give up any assets.

Christian Wood: C

In 16 minutes, Wood helped out with four rebounds and one assist, but he shot only 1-of-5 and missed all four of his 3-point attempts. At the very least, he needs to improve his outside shooting for the Lakers to have a good chance of making some real noise in the playoffs this spring.

Jaxson Hayes: D

Hayes scored four points, but he failed to do the two main things the Lakers need him to do: defend and rebound. His rim protection in the second quarter was poor, as he wasn’t able to contest shots, allowing the Jazz to score several baskets in the paint during that span.

In 12 minutes, Hayes had no rebounds or blocks. It came in contrast to his last three games, in which he had a combined 21 boards and four rejections.

Dylan Windler: C

Windler, a 6-foot-6 forward the Lakers signed to a two-way contract last month, got eight minutes of playing time against Utah. He attempted four shots, all of them 3-pointers, and made one of them while contributing one assist.

Colin Castleton, Skylar Mays: Incomplete

Castleton and Mays got two minutes of playing time at the end of the game. Castleton scored a basket, while Mays made no statistical contribution.

Story originally appeared on LeBron Wire