NBA-leading Jazz rout championship-favorite Lakers

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SALT LAKE CITY — Rudy Gobert and Jordan Clarkson each scored 18 points and the Utah Jazz routed the Los Angeles Lakers 114-89 on Wednesday night.

Gobert also had nine rebounds for Utah (26-6), which won for the 22nd time in its last 24 games – with 20 of those victories coming by double-digits. Bojan Bogdanovic added 15 points, Mike Conley had 14 points, eight rebounds and eight assists, and Donovan Mitchell finished with 13 points, 10 rebounds, and eight assists.

LeBron James scored 19 points and Montrzel Harrell added 16 to lead the Lakers (22-11), who lost their fourth straight and fifth in six games.

Back-to-back baskets from James and Marc Gasol gave the Lakers a 17-13 lead as Los Angeles hung with Utah for a quarter. But the final three quarters belonged to the Jazz.

Utah scored baskets on four straight possessions – starting with back-to-back buckets from Clarkson – to take a 35-25 lead early in the second quarter. Clarkson, Royce O'Neale and Conley each hit a 3-pointer in that stretch. That was a sneak preview of Utah’s barrage of outside baskets.

The Jazz made eight 3-pointers during the second quarter and shot 14 of 23 (.609) from long distance in the first half. They built a 63-47 halftime lead after Mitchell drained a 3 and Gobert followed with back-to-back baskets over Utah’s final three possessions of the half.

The Jazz slammed the door early in the third quarter when Gobert threw down back-to-back alley-oop dunks to extend Utah’s lead to 71-47.

TIP INS

Lakers: Talen Horton-Tucker made his first start of the season and the second of his NBA career. Horton-Tucker had a team-high five assists. . Los Angeles scored eight points off Utah’s first four turnovers in the first quarter.

Jazz: Mitchell led Utah in rebounds for the first time this season. . The Jazz made at least 20 3-pointers for the 11th time this season, moving them into a third-place tie with the 2019-20 Dallas Mavericks for the most such games in a season. Utah shot 22 of 48 from 3-point range overall.

UP NEXT

Lakers: Host the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday.

Jazz: Visit the Miami Heat on Friday.

Watch Dinwiddie get ejected for elbow to Poole’s face; Mavs still win behind Doncic 41 points

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Dallas has gotten in trouble this season because of a lack of secondary shot creation behind Luka Doncic, so when Spencer Dinwiddie got ejected for an elbow to the face of Golden State’s Jordan Poole, it seemed like the Mavericks might be in danger of falling to the Warriors.

Doncic had other plans — and a 41-point triple-double.

The ejection happened early in the fourth quarter, when Dinwiddie drove the lane on Poole and, bringing the ball up, elbowed Poole in the face.

That was reviewed by the referees who ruled it a Flagrant 2. The league has cracked down on blows to the face and head — intentional or not — the past couple of seasons.

Dinwiddie being out just meant more Luka — and that was bad news for the Warriors.

Despite Doncic and his triple-double, the Warriors had a couple of chances in the final seconds. First, Stephen Curry got called for a travel.

The Warriors argued that call but got nowhere with the referees. But they got one more chance on a Klay Thompson 3 to tie, but it was just not their night.

The Mavericks got the 116-113 win. Tim Hardaway Jr. pitched in 25 points, including five 3-pointers for Dallas. Curry led the Warriors with 32.

Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns out 4-6 weeks with calf strain

Minnesota Timberwolves v Washington Wizards
Rob Carr/Getty Images
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It’s not good news, but it looked like it could have been much worse.

Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns is out for weeks with a right calf strain, the team announced Tuesday following an MRI exam. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports it is likely 4-6 weeks.

The injury occurred midway through the third quarter Monday when Towns started to run back upcourt and went to the ground without contact, grabbing his knee and calf. It looked scary — Achilles scary — and he had to be helped off the court.

Towns has averaged 21.4 points and 8.5 rebounds a game, and while his numbers are down this season — just 32.8% on 3-pointers — the team has struggled at times without him, particularly lineups with Rudy Gobert and Anthony Edwards together, an -11.8 net rating (in non-garbage time minutes, via Cleaning the Glass).

Kevin Durant on chasing MVP: ‘Not really, I’ve been there, done that’

Orlando Magic v Brooklyn Nets
Mike Stobe/Getty Images
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Kevin Durant carried the Nets to another win Monday night, scoring 45 points on 19-of-24 shooting, plus seven rebounds and five assists.

If you’re having an MVP conversation a quarter of the way into the NBA season, Durant has to be part of it: 30 points per game on 54.8% shooting (and a ridiculous 65.9 true shooting percentage), 6.6 rebounds and 5.5 assists a game, plus playing solid defense and being the anchor of the Nets. After his 45-point outing to get Brooklyn a win over Orlando, Durant was asked about MVP chants and the chase for the award and was clearly not interested.

Durant has MVP numbers, but so do Stephen Curry, Luka Doncic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jayson Tatum and others. If Durant is going to move to the front of the conversation, the first thing that has to happen is Brooklyn has to win a lot more games — 11-11 is not going to cut it when Tatum’s Celtics and Antetokounmpo’s Bucks have the two best records in the NBA. Winning games and finishing on a top-three team in the conference matters to some voters (and traditionally is one measure of an MVP).

Watch Herb Jones inbound off Pokusevski’s back, seal win for Pelicans

Oklahoma City Thunder v New Orleans Pelicans
Layne Murdoch Jr./NBAE via Getty Images
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With 2.3 seconds left in the game and the Thunder down 2, they needed to steal the inbounds pass from New Orleans to have a real chance. That’s why when Aleksej Pokusevski walked on the court it looked like he was going to guard the inbounder, Herbert Jones.

Instead, Pokusevski turned his back to Jones, putting himself in position to step in front of anyone cutting to the ball to catch the inbounds. Except, Jones made the clever play to seal the game.

Pokusevski fouled Jones, who sank both free throws and sealed the 105-101 Pelicans win.

The Pelicans got 23-8-8 from Zion Williamson and picked up a win without CJ McCollum or Brandon Ingram in the lineup. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander continued his dominant start to the season and scored 31.