SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Jazz headed into their matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers riding a three-game losing streak and desperately needing a win. Despite a sluggish second half and a lackluster performance overall, the Jazz pulled out a 95-86 win to improve to 2-3 on the season.
GUARDS: In the low-scoring affair, Mo Williams scored 16 points on 8-of-13 shooting while dishing out seven assists. Williams did a great job of targeting Randy Foye in the third quarter when the backup guard was on fire. Gordon Hayward may not always produce offensively — and he didn't against Los Angeles with only seven points — but his defense was invaluable against the Lakers. The third-year guard had three blocks and two steals on the night. GRADE: A-.
FORWARDS: Marvin Williams and Paul Millsap didn't do anything spectacular offensively, but both played hard on defense and made a difference in the paint. Millsap's interior passing created great scoring opportunities for the Jazz down the stretch as he finished with five assists to go with nine boards and seven points. Marvin Williams finished with 11 points, four rebounds and two steals. GRADE: B+.
CENTERS: After wearing down one of the NBA's best centers in Dwight Howard with defense and rebounding, Al Jefferson made some key buckets down the stretch to propel the Jazz to victory. Jefferson finished the night with a double-double, scoring 18 points and pulling down 10 rebounds. Jefferson also had four steals on the night. Enes Kanter provided an offensive spark and he put nine points on the board. The second-year center had averaged just over two points per game after averaging a near double-double in the preseason. GRADE: A-.
BENCH: The Lakers' bench is below average compared to its starting five, and the Jazz bench heavily outperformed its visting counterpart. Foye gave a Jazz team that was slumping in the third quarter and into the fourth a huge boost with a trifecta of 3s. Foye led the bench with 17 points on 5-of-11 shooting overall and 5-of-9 shooting from 3-point range in 29 minutes. Foye carried the weight of the Jazz bench scoring, while the Lakers put up 14 points from the bench. GRADE: B+.
OVERALL: The Jazz came in limping off a three-game losing streak on the road badly needing a victory, and they just barely held on. The Lakers obviously have talent, but they are 1-4 and aren't playing as expected at all. Utah had several opportunities to blow the game open in the second half but didn't. The fact the Jazz held on when Kobe Bryant finally decided to play in the final minutes of the game redeemed their slump through the third quarter and through the first part of the fourth quarter. GRADE: B+.
Tyler Huskinson is a freelance journalist who loves to cover sports. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on twitter @TDHuskiSports.
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