Even though the Lakers’ 116-108 victory over Utah that clinched best record in the Western Conference didn’t give them home-court advantage because all games are being played in the NBA bubble, they still found satisfaction in accomplishing that feat for the first time since 2010.
The victory lifted the Lakers to 51-15, including 2-1 in the seeding games, and gave them a six-game lead over the second-place Clippers with five games left before the first round of the playoffs begins Aug. 17.
Five takeaways from the Lakers’ victory:
1. Anthony Davis rebounded from a so-so game against the Toronto Raptors on Saturday night with an outstanding outing against the Jazz, scoring 42 points on 13-for-28 shooting, including going four for eight from three-point range and 12 for 15 from the free-throw line. He also had 12 rebounds and four assists.
In the loss to the Raptors, Davis was not much of a factor. He took only seven shots, making just two and scoring 14 points.
But Davis was much more aggressive against the Jazz, going hard at Utah's defensive stalwart, the 7-foot-1 Rudy Gobert.
And it helped that Davis’ teammates looked for him often.
2. LeBron James started slowly but got it done in the second half. James had 22 points, nine assists and eight rebounds and was efficient from the field, going nine for 16 in 35 minutes.
3. In the first two seeding games, the Lakers shot brick after brick after brick, leading to them making 37.2% from the field. But in the third game against the Jazz, the Lakers made 50% of their shots. They shot 34.6% from three-point range, an improvement over the 27.6% they shot in the first two games.
4. This time, when Kentavious Caldwell-Pope got open looks, the starting guard for the Lakers was able to connect at a better rate. He made four of seven shots, including one of three three-pointers. In the first two games, Caldwell-Pope was horrendous from the field, making 26.7% of his shots and 14.3% of his three-pointers. “I’m still trying to knock the rust off,” Caldwell-Pope said via a Zoom conference call after Monday night’s game. “I’m just trying to get acclimated to where we are playing, the atmosphere. I’m getting there. It shouldn’t take me that many more games. I felt good tonight.”
5. The Lakers took pretty good care of the ball, turning it over 14 times. James and Dion Waiters each had four turnovers.