Entering their MLK Day schedule, part of the NBA’s 12-game standings on Monday, the Lakers are on a three-game losing streak.
Their most recent loss, a 37-point loss, which came in Denver on Saturday (January 15), looked so lackluster that team superstar LeBron James apologized on Twitter.
And things don’t get any easier on Monday when they host the Jazz, one of the top teams in the league. They had an 11-point lead, the biggest of the game, at the end of the first half but a lackluster 20 points in the third quarter allowed the visitors to not only come back up but also take the lead.
With 8:30 minutes left of the match, a match that seemed to slip out of hand, they were leading nine (83-74). That’s when they switched to the ‘LeBron-at-center’ lineup and that changed everything.
In that final stretch, the Lakers were particularly brilliant at both ends, recording a commendable 101-95 victory.
Center LeBron sparks Lakers’ biggest win of the season
Surrounded by bodyguards and wings, James played center in the final beat of changing momentum.
He only contributed six points and three rebounds during that time, but he certainly set an example of his attitude and playing style by constantly attacking and challenging Jazz big-timer Rudy. Gobert.
“I’m just trying to get people into position to succeed and read the game while it’s going on and I know how we can be confusingly successful,” James said after the game. “The boys responded well to what I saw and Stanley had a big game.”
Stanley Johnson, a player on his third 10-day contract with the team, inflicted most of the damage in the fourth quarter as he scored 10 of his 15 points during this period.
The line-up with LeBron-at-center, which we’ve been featured in since late December, seems always lethal when insulted But there is much to be desired in defence. However, in this game during that last period when they outperform the visitors 27-12, that lineup held the Jazz to 17 points in the fourth quarter.
That’s remarkable compared to a possessive team best offense of the league and have been kept below 100 points just three times earlier this season.
“It was a good win for us,” Russell Westbrook said after the game.
It’s actually a great win when you consider the players the Lakers have been lacking like Anthony Davis and Carmelo Anthony while a healthy Jazz team has all of their major rotation players.
The perfectly healthy Jazz has just lost a winless team to a .500 team in over a month.
They scored 17 points in the fourth quarter against the less centered Lakers.
Didn’t know that the knockout round had begun. pic.twitter.com/3nLLpPCWGe
– StanleyMuse (@statmuse) January 18, 2022