Johnson, who was just re-signed to another 10-day contract earlier in the day, scored six consecutive points in the fourth quarter. He tied the game at 83 with a 15-foot pull-up jumper, and he later scored a layup with a nice move around Rudy Gobert to give the Lakers a 89-87 lead.
James had suggested the smaller Lakers lineup attack Gobert and the basket. It worked.
“I’m just trying to put everyone in position to be successful and reading the game while the game was going on and I knew the way we could be successful offensively,” James said. “The guys responded well to what I saw and Stanley had a big-time game.”
Austin Reaves had a tip-in basket off his own miss to put the Lakers ahead by four and Avery Bradley made a key 3-pointer in the corner, off an assist from Johnson, for a 95-89 lead. Johnson made 7 of 9 shots and also had seven rebounds.
The Lakers got 44 points from their bench. None bigger than the 15 from Johnson, who grew up in Anaheim, starred at Mater Dei in California and felt the love of Southern California.
“It feels good doing what I came here to do,” Johnson said. “I came here to bring energy and affect the game in different ways. Today was the day I was able to do it within the scheme and get deflections and be active. It resulted in positive plays. It feels good. We all put a lot into this. It’s not just a wake up and do it.”
James also had seven rebounds and seven assists, after tweeting an apology to Lakers Nation after that loss to the Nuggets.
“Our effort and energy wasn’t where it needed to be in the Denver game, second half of Memphis game and the other game,” James said. “We weren’t playing to our capabilities. As the leader of this team I was taking onus of that and letting Laker Nation know.”
With Anthony Davis still out, the Jazz had a marked size advantage in the frontcourt with 7-foot-1 Gobert.
Gobert was playing his second game back after missing five games because he tested positive for COVID-19. He didn’t attempt his first shot until the 10:51 mark of the second quarter and yet had a double double. One day earlier, Gobert had 18 points and 19 rebounds in a 125-102 Utah win over Denver.
Utah scored just 17 points in the fourth quarter and shot only 36.9 percent from the field.
“I thought we had too many really tough shots,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “I think some of the shots are makable but we made it harder on ourselves than it needed to be as far as making better reads and moving the ball quicker and generating some better shots. I think that showed.”
Westbrook dunked over Gobert late in the second quarter. Then he had some words for Gobert. Westbrook was assessed a technical foul.
When told that some people might not think he still had it in him, Westbrook said laughing: “That’s people’s problem. That’s their problem”
WORKING HIS WAY BACK
Davis, who is recovering from an MCL sprain of his left knee, was examined by doctors Monday and was cleared to practice fullcourt with contact, Frank Vogel said. There is still no timetable for his return.
RUSS WITH THE COURTSIDE ASSIST
During the first quarter, Westbrook grabbed a mop and helped clean up a wet spot on the courtside floor after a fan spilled a drink. He did so with a smile, too.
“I felt I can do anything,” Westbrook said. “I don’t see why not.”
Jazz: G Jared Butler (health and safety protocols) and C Hassan Whiteside (health and safety protocols) were out … G/F Elijah Hughes (return to competition reconditioning) was questionable … Players wore “Now is the time to make justice a reality for all” T-shirts during warmups on Martin Luther King Day.
Lakers: F Carmelo Anthony (lower back tightness) was out. He’s day-to-day. Frank Vogel is hopeful he’ll return Wednesday … Kendrick Nunn (right knee bone bruise) had ramped up his recovery but had to scale back … Antonio Brown, Dwyane Wade (minority owner of the Jazz) and Sabrina Ionescu were some notables at the game. Brown was sitting courtside and took photos with fans at halftime.
Jazz: Hosts Houston on Wednesday night.
Lakers: Hosts Indiana on Wednesday night.
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