|6:30 PM PT7:30 PM MT8:30 PM CT9:30 PM ET1:30 GMT9:30 6:30 PM MST8:30 PM EST5:30 UAE (+1)03:3021:30 ET8:30 PM CT0:30 , April 7, 2019
Staples Center, Los Angeles, California Attendance: 18,997
Jazz, Lakers getting late looks at bench players
Utah Jazz at Los Angeles Lakers
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The Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Lakers will head in opposite directions next week.
The Jazz will enter the playoffs for the third season in a row, while the Lakers will start their vacations early for a sixth straight year.
Both teams have developed something in common, however.
Because of injuries, both slight and severe, the Jazz and Lakers will continue to be severely short-handed when they meet in Los Angeles on Sunday.
The lack of healthy bodies has opened the door for both organizations to take longer looks at end-of-the-bench players in these final games of the regular season, and both clubs have witnessed some surprisingly good performances.
Utah rookie shooting guard Grayson Allen has recorded his season-high point total in each of the past two games, helping the Jazz win four straight and stay in the hunt for the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference.
Allen, the 21st overall pick out of Duke last June, scored 23 points in a 119-98 win on Friday against the visiting Sacramento Kings, two nights after he scored 14 in a 118-97 win at the Phoenix Suns.
"This is just the beginning," Utah teammate Donovan Mitchell said of Allen. "You see the way he's creating, the way he's poised. I think there's a lot more. The biggest thing we all see is his competitiveness on the defensive end. ... I think he takes pride in that."
The Lakers received an eye-opening performance from shooting guard Alex Caruso in a 122-117 win against the playoff-bound Los Angeles Clippers on Friday night.
Caruso had a career-high 32 points, shot 5-for-7 from 3-point range, and the undrafted 25-year-old out of Texas A&M grabbed 10 rebounds.
Caruso has taken advantage of a depleted Los Angeles roster as well.
The Lakers (36-44) have been without their top three scorers in the past four games. LeBron James, Kyle Kuzma and Brandon Ingram, as well as starting point guard Lonzo Ball, have been shut down for the season.
Caruso is averaging 19.8 points and six assists in the past four games.
"The more time he plays, the more he shows what he can do," Lakers coach Luke Walton told reporters. "The more he makes the case for himself, he lets the whole NBA see what we've seen, and the growth that he's had as a player the last couple years."
The Lakers are also taking a long look at undrafted rookie Jemerrio Jones, an undersized 6-5 forward who grabbed 10 rebounds off the bench against the Clippers and helped limit their leading scorer, shooting guard Lou Williams, to 4-for-12 shooting.
"I'm searching the bench for guys who will get out there and play," Walton said. "(Jones) does that every time he steps on the court."
The Jazz (49-30) are one game behind the Portland Trail Blazers for fourth place in the West with three games left for each. Utah owns the tiebreaker, but faces a tough sprint to the finish with injuries to Dante Exum (knee surgery), Derrick Favors (back spasms), Kyle Korver (right knee soreness), Jae Crowder (quadriceps), Raul Neto (ankle), and Ricky Rubio (quadriceps).
Rubio returned against Sacramento after missing a game with hamstring soreness, but he played just five minutes before leaving with a quadriceps injury.
If the Jazz continue to be short-handed, confidence is growing that Allen can fill some of the void.
"I feel like he's giving effort defensively and working," Utah coach Quin Snyder said. "He's made that important. I like seeing him compete, and that's what he's been doing, and when you're a good player and you do those things, good things happen."
--Field Level Media
Updated April 6, 2019