Lakers put 'unbelievable energy' into rebounding in home win over Jazz

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Anthony Davis had the basketball at the corner of the free-throw line, his defender draped over him, but his eyes surveying the court, when he found a cutting Taurean Prince. Prince missed the layup, but Davis gobbled up the offensive rebound and threw down a two-handed dunk.

It was another offensive rebound by Davis and another sign of how committed the Lakers were to hitting the backboards on Tuesday night against the tough-rebounding Utah Jazz.

Before their fourth in-season tournament game at Arena, Lakers coach Darvin Ham said that rebounding has “kind of been our Achilles’.”

So the focus for the Lakers was to clean up that weakness, especially considering that Utah entered the game ranked first in rebounding (47.6) and first in offensive rebounds (15.3).

Conversely, the Lakers have been awful in that department, ranking 19th in rebounds (43.5) and next-to-last in offensive rebounds (8.2).

They have been known to give up offensive rebounds in bunches to opponents, and did so during Tuesday’s 131-99 win as well, but it didn’t come back to haunt the Lakers.

The Lakers gave up 13 offensive rebounds to the Jazz for 22 second-chance points, but L.A. outrebounded the Jazz as a whole, 52-42, and the Lakers had nine offensive rebounds of their own.

“They still got their fair share of offensive rounds, but in those initial minutes, those initial segments of the game, I don’t think it was as blatant or harmful to us,” Ham said. “That’s a part of our game we’ve been trying to get better at. Start of the defense, end of the defense, transition defense through the halfcourt to finishing the defense with a defensive rebound. But I thought our guys came out with unbelievable energy, effort.”

Davis led the way for the Lakers, dominating the backboards with 16 rebounds to go along with 26 points, all in 29 minutes, none of which came in the fourth quarter.

He set the tone early too, grabbing nine rebounds in the first quarter alone, making it the 10th time in his career he has had at least that amount of rebounds in a quarter in the regular season.

LeBron James had seven rounds in just 24 minutes, Christian Wood eight and Rui Hachimura six.

“Yeah, I mean, we talked about it, knowing that a lot of their guys crash,” Davis said. “We got to be able to put bodies on bodies. … So just making an emphasis on rebounding and knowing that we are really good in transition. If we are able to rebound the basketball, not give them second, third, fourth opportunities, we can get out and run.”

Lakers find the shooting range

Early in the third quarter, James grabbed a rebound and passed the basketball ahead to D’Angelo Russell, who pushed the ball up court and pulled up for a three-pointer in transition that he made.

It was a night in which the Lakers were making their threes.

As a team, they shot 37.9% from three-point range, and this was with Prince missing all four of his three-pointers.

Russell was three-for-four from three-point range and James was three-for-five.

Ham said it “opens everything up” when the Lakers can knock down three-pointer.

“I want all of our guys to be positive and confident in their shot, even though certain guys are struggling a little bit, not hitting their mark,” Ham said.

Max Christie gets playing time

The opportunity to play meaningful minutes arrived for second-year guard Max Christie because Cam Reddish went down with groin soreness in the first quarter and was unable to return.

Christie was solid across the board in his 25 minutes of play.

He had seven points, five rebounds and four assists. He was three-for-eight from the field and just one-for-five from three-point range.

“Max is a really bright young player. Going to be a part of us for a long time,” Ham said. “Just him learning how to navigate screens on the ball. He’s really good off-the-ball navigating screens, but on the ball, just talking him through it. He tends to get a little preoccupied with whoever’s screening him as opposed to getting into the ball and dictating where the ball handler goes. We’ll continue to work with him. That’s a bright young player. Someone we’re really excited about. I’m happy to see — unfortunate circumstances, obviously — but happy to see him get his beak wet a little bit, get out there and get in the fray.”

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