Lakers 94, Jazz 99: Preseason Diary

62092921Below is a running diary of L.A.’s preseason contest against Utah, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:

Starters
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Odom and Gasol
Jazz: Earl Watson*, Raja Bell, Andrei Kirilenko, Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson
*Watson was in for All-Star Deron Williams, out with a right calf strain.

62092940FIRST QUARTER
7:05 The Lakers missed more field goal attempts than Scott Norwood to open the game (six straight, actually) before Gasol’s tip-in, Artest’s corner three and a Ron Ron layup made it 7-6 for the home team. Artest’s offense has been somewhat of a revelation in the preseason thus far, particularly his outside shooting, but perhaps signifies a high level of confidence and release of pressure coming out off a championship that L.A. hopes lasts into the regular season.

4:15 A triple from C.J. Miles capped a 12-4 Utah run that put the Jazz up 16-9, the Lakers struggling to hit anything from inside or out. Gasol missed all but one of four attempts, while Bryant bricked each of his four jumpers, the team converting only 3-of-16 shots.

1:45 Continuing his theme throughout training camp, Shannon Brown hit two uncontested jump shots instead of putting the ball on the floor, combining with a late Gasol dunk on Steve Blake’s dime to bring L.A. within two (22-20) at the first quarter break. This despite the Lakers being outshot 56.3 percent to 33.3 percent from the field. By the way, the Jazz (5-0) have yet to lose in the preseason, playing with typical Jerry Sloan aggressiveness.

62092644SECOND QUARTER
8:16 L.A.’s bench wasn’t able to make any more shots than its starters had, and Utah took advantage to build an eight point lead at 32-24 before Theo Ratliff converted inside on Blake’s third assist. Were some of the Lakers interested in getting home early to watch a great Sunday night TV line up led by “Mad Men” and “Boardwalk Empire,” it’d be understandable.

4:24 The Jazz opened its biggest lead at 40-26 before two Gasol free throws and respective threes from Brown and Artest made it a 42-34 ball game.

1:30 Ron Bryant … err, Ron Artest kept it up, shooting his way up to 17 first half points. Keep in mind that his regular season high last year was 22. Moments later, Odom nailed a pull-up three to bring the Lakers within five points at the half despite trailing by double-digits for much of the second quarter.

62092707THIRD QUARTER
7:06 It’s been a day-by-day progression towards health for Kobe Bryant, and his five-minute stretch to start the second half was by far his most impressive thus far. First came a drop-in dunk, then a baseline fadeaway, and subsequently three straight swishes from three-point territory (one called back for traveling) to give him 10 straight points, and the Lakers a 58-56 lead. Is it time to stop wondering whether or not he’ll be fully healthy for the regular season?

3:33 Apparently so, as Bryant added two more buckets amidst an 11-0 Lakers run that put the home team up 69-58. The final points of the burst came courtesy of a beautiful Spanish-National-soccer-team-looking passing play in transition that went from Odom to Fisher to Artest and finally Gasol for an and-1 layup. Preseason or not, L.A.’s third quarter seemed to remind the team of how well they can play basketball.

0:00 Kobe’s outstanding quarter produced 19 points on 7-of-8 shooting, though the Jazz did manage the period’s final two buckets to pull within one at 74-73. L.A.’s lead could have been larger had Blake managed to convert one of the two open threes Bryant earned him in the corner, but a visibly frustrated Blake missed both to fall to 0-for-7 on the game.

62092934FOURTH QUARTER
8:46 With Bryant back on the bench, L.A.’s offense returned to its poor first half form, stalling while the Jazz continued to convert, opening a 81-78 lead. Leading the way for Utah was lottery pick Gordon Hayward out of Butler, who’d used 6-of-7 field goal makes to reach 17 points.

2:00 While Bryant (20 minutes), Fisher (18 minutes) and Artest (30 minutes) stayed on the bench, bigs Odom (39 minutes at that point) and Gasol (35 minutes) joined Ebanks, Brown and Trey Johnson to try and mount a comeback, down six. Both Johnson and Gasol missed 1-of-2 free throws, allowing Utah to stay up 93-90 instead of making it a one-point game.

25.0 Needing a stop after two Gasol free throws, Ebanks instead fouled Hayward far away from the rim, then got T’d up to boot. Hayward’s resulting three free throws gave him 26 points and the Jazz a six-point lead. Gasol managed a bucket plus the foul, but missed the free throw, and Utah held on to win 99-94.

POSTGAME NUMBERS
12 Free throws made by Pau Gasol in 14 attempts en route to the Spaniard’s 28 points in 37 minutes, plus nine boards and four assists in the loss.

15 Boards for Lamar Odom to lead all players, boosting his preseason total to 44, an average of 10.8 per game to rank fourth in the NBA.

19 Points dropped by Kobe Bryant in a Kobe-Bryant-like third quarter scoring explosion that included three consecutive three-point swishes, though the second was called back for traveling. He made 7-of-8 field goals after missing all four of his shots in the first quarter to help L.A. turn a five-point halftime deficit into a one-point lead heading into the fourth.

26 Points off the bench for Jazz lottery pick Gordon Hayward, who impressed with 8-of-10 field goal makes and 10-of-11 from the foul line.

37.5 L.A.’s shooting percentage in a poorly executed first half on the offensive end, allowing Utah to open a 14-point lead that the Lakers still managed to trim to five at the break.