Jazz 114 Lakers 89

Complete Hospital Job.

Jim Rome
February 25, 2021 - 9:19 am
Mike Conley Jr.

USA Today

Categories: 

The Lakers looked gassed in Monday’s overtime loss to the Wizards. And the last place you want to be gassed right now is Salt Lake City.

Because the Utah Jazz will carve you. And that’s exactly what happened last night. Utah 114, Los Angeles 89. Complete Hospital Job. 

AND you knew this was coming. No way, the Lakers, busted up the way they are right now, we’re going to hang with this Jazz team. This one was over before halftime. The best thing about the Lakers getting waxed that badly is that LeBron was actually to get off his feet and get some rest.

Just tell me you were surprised anything you saw last night. From either team. Because while how you play in February doesn’t mean a helluva lot, especially if you’re the defending champs or a team that has yet to prove they can get it done in the postseason, these are still two teams headed in different directions right now. The Lakers have lost four in a row and five of their last six.

While theJazz have won 22 of their last 24, are shooting the hell out of it, doing everything right and building a monster. And while they might not have the star power of the Lakers, or Clippers or Nets, and they haven’t done it postseason, sleeping on these guys would not be smart. Not smart at all. Because this is a damn good team. A damn good team with two all-stars in Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell. Those two all-stars, who are both ascending, but that’s not even where I want to start. Nope. I want to start with: Michael Alex Conley Jr.

Yesterday it was announced that Devin Booker would be taking the place of Anthony Davis on the All-Star team. And what that meant was that Mike Conley wouldn’t be getting that spot.

I’m not going to waste time arguing about All-Star snubs, I don’t give a damn about that: never have, never will. But I will say this: Conley deserved to be an all-star. And if he ends up playing his entire career without going to an all-star game, that would be a freaking crime...

Because he’s that good and he came out to prove it in the first 45 seconds last night. 

Pull up three, get the steal, and then an easy layup in the first minute. Then chasing it with another three minutes later. All this guy does is make an impact at both ends and makes it look easy. He had 14 points, 8 assists, 8 rebounds, and 2 steals last night and looks like he’s not even trying.

Actually, that’s what this entire Utah team does: they make it all look so easy. Everyone’s knows about their defense and yes, they locked the Lakers up, well, what’s left the Lakers, holding them to 40% shooting and 24% from beyond the arc. But we’ve come to expect that from the Jazz. But they also absolutely shoot the hell out of it as well.  And they move the ball so well. And move so well without the ball. And are so well coached. They find the open man, the open man knocks down shots and they make the game look so easy.

Insane enough that they have ripped off 22 of their last 24, but even more insane when you consider 20 of those wins have been by double digits. So they’re not just beating teams, they’re beating the crap out of them. And they’re doing it every time they take the floor.  So you if you runs with these guys now, you’re getting humiliated. No matter who you are. And that’s exactly what happened to the Lakers last night. 

And it’s HOW they do it that’s so mind-blowing. It’s kind of crazy that they put up 114 and their leading scorer had just 18 points. How is that possible in this day and age that an NBA team can put up 114 and nobody gets above 20 points? How can you blow out the defending champs on a night where your star player goes 4 for 16 with 13 points?

Because they had 6 guys scoring at least 12. Talk about strength in numbers. They’re that deep with playmakers and scorers. And that’s what makes this crew so interesting, and so dangerous.  

Because for a while now, the thinking in the NBA has been that to win a ring, you need superstars. And not just one. And maybe not just two.

But the Jazz are challenging that notion. Because they don’t hit you with the so-called generational talent: they may not have the so-called transcendent superstar or superstars: but they do have stars in Mitchell, Gobert and Conley:

Remember when there were some dopes who were questioning how good Donovan Mitchell really is? And what he could bring to a team if he wasn’t scoring? He wasn’t scoring last night and still had eight assists and 10 rebounds.

So they do have stars.  And they do have numbers.  And they do have guys who can shoot it lights out from deep.   

And last night, they were locked in. 22 threes, 46% from deep. Last night’s 22 bombs gave them 50 in their last two games, which is a new NBA record.

I’m no analytics wizard, but if you’re holding your opponent to 24% from three and you’re hitting 46% from three, I like your chances. I like them a lot.

As Gobert said, “When you have a team of shooters, it can go pretty fast.”

Or, if you’d like Gobert to put it more succinctly: “We know we can score. We know we can score any time."

So believe this: the Jazz are the proverbial “problem” now. And those who know, know: those who know aren’t’ talking crap about them. Those who know, know, they’re probably going to end up with the number one seed in the West, and that if you want a shot at a ring, you’re going to have to go through the Jazz. Those who know, know that it’s now no longer a matter of the Jazz having to deal with the Lakers or the Clippers or the Nets, if they come out of the east: those contenders have to know deal with the Jazz.  And they know it. I’m not quote crowning their ass just yet, but I am saying they are good enough to win it all, and they’re good enough to do it this season. They’re no joke.  In fact, they’re a problem. A big freaking problem.