NBA features: Jazz keep Lakers out of play-in zone.

NBA features: Jazz keep Lakers out of play-in zone.

Just In: NBA features on Jan. 13: Jazz keep Lakers out of play-in zone.

NBA highlights on Jan. 13: Jazz keep Lakers out of play-in zone. The Utah Jazz beat the Los Angeles Lakers 132-125 at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Saturday, extending their winning streak to five games and continuing to shut the purple and gold out of the Western Conference play-in tournament zone.

LeBron James was sidelined for the game because of a left ankle injury, which made Anthony Davis the first offensive preference of the Lakers. The Jazz knew it as well and thus double-teamed him in almost every possession when he had the ball below the free throw line.

Davis exploited such defensive over-concentration of the opponents on him to score a triple-double with 11 assists, but shooting 5-for-21 from the field to get only 15 points was far from enough to fill in the offensive vacancy left by the absence of James.

D’Angelo Russell shouldered the biggest offensive duty of the Lakers in Saturday’s game with a season-high 39 points. He knocked down six triples and had double-digit points in three of the four quarters. However, his teammates did a poor job of supporting him. Austin Reaves was the only one who made decent offensive contributions on the purple and gold’s side, but only in the first period with 11 points.

12 points added in the second period.

By contrast, the Jazz always had different players stand out to prolong their firepower. Lauri Markkanen scored 10 and 12 points in the first and third quarters respectively. Jordan Clarkson added 12 points in the second period. Rookie Keyonte George contributed 17 points in the second half. Collin Sexton made his presence felt on the offensive end in every quarter with his remarkable aggression and energy.

One of the main reasons behind the Jazz’s home win on Saturday night was that they managed to keep the game in a fast pace during most of the time. In this way, they avoided having to challenge Davis from front. Despite his low efficiency of individual attack, he got four blocks.

When the Jazz kept launching early offense before Davis could come back to defense, they targeted Russell and Reaves, two of the Lakers’ most important firepower source and also the biggest defensive weak links. Reaves was fouled out in the fourth quarter. Though coach Darwin Ham knew the opponents’ intention, he couldn’t afford to keep either of the two on the bench for too long thanks to the team’s lack of depth in playmaking.

The good news for the Lakers was that Rui Hachimura, a key member of their bench unit, made his first appearance after missing five games. He went 6-for-12 in field goals (FGs) to get 17 points. His isolation ability is very essential to the team if they want to go further in the playoffs.

Other games on Saturday (away teams come first):

Golden State Warriors 118-129 Milwaukee Bucks

Though Stephen Curry sat out the game at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on Saturday, the Warriors put up very tough resistance against the Bucks. Brandin Podziemski shot 10-for-14 from the field to get 23 points and 10 rebounds. Klay Thompson drained six triples out of 17 attempts. Jonathan Kuminga contributed team-high 28 points off the bench, including 17 in the fourth period. The game remained close until the final two minutes.

On the Bucks’ side, Giannis Antetokounmpo dropped court-high 33 points. Damian Lillard had 27 points and seven assists, but the best-performing one was Khris Middleton. His double-double of 24 points and 10 assists aside, Middleton saw the Warriors’ biggest defensive weakness, which was Kuminga’s lack of experience and Trayce Jackson-Davis’ lack of physicality. Middleton shot 5-for-5 from the field, all jumpers, in the final period, and delivered five assists, enabling the Bucks to seal the deal 46-37 in this quarter.

Orlando Magic 100-112 Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Thunder secured their fourth straight win at Paycom Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, on Saturday, matching the West’s leader, the Minnesota Timberwolves at 27-11. All five of their starting players reached double-digit points, led by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s (SGA’s) 37. Having gone 13-for-16 in FGs within the 3-point line, he also got six rebounds, seven assists and three steals.

The Magic rested Franz Wagner in the game, placing more orchestrating duties on Paolo Banchero. He finished with 20 points, nine rebounds and eight assists, but missed 11 of his 19 shots, including 10 jumpers due to Chet Holmgren’s defensive deterrence in the paint.

Houston Rockets 113-145 Boston Celtics

Washington Wizards 127-99 Atlanta Hawks

New York Knicks 106-94 Memphis Grizzlies

New Orleans Pelicans 118-108 Dallas Mavericks

Chicago Bulls 122-116 San Antonio Spurs.

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