Below is a running diary of L.A.’s road game in Salt Lake City as the Lakers looked to win their sixth straight overall game and fourth on the road, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Odom and Gasol
Jazz: D. Williams, R. Bell, A. Kirilenko, P. Millsap, A. Jefferson
5:54 The Jazz have been a tough team to figure out this season, as they own both the league’s most impressive road streak with wins over Miami, Orlando, Atlanta and Charlotte, as well as three uncharacteristic home losses. Among their chief struggles has come on the backboards, as they rank just 25th in the league, while the Lakers came in as the NBA’s top boarding team even without Andrew Bynum. That played out a bit in the opening minutes, as Gasol and Odom controlled the paint for L.A., collecting five total boards, while an 8-0 run at the other end produced a 17-8 lead for the visitors. Gasol, meanwhile, took only six minutes to match his field goal total against the Bulls (3-for-3 after a 3-for-10 game on Tuesday).
2:08 Gasol and Odom continued their dominance, totaling 15 points, eight boards and three assists with the Lakers opening a 26-14 lead and looking oblivious to one of the league’s tougher environments. By the end of the quarter, the two bigs had had yet to miss a shot, going 8-for-8 for 19 points. The lead at the break was 33-17, L.A. shooting an impressive 68.4 percent to Utah’s 33.3 percent. Bryant hit half his shots (3-of-6) and added three dimes, while Matt Barnes picked up where he left off on Tuesday against the Bulls, hitting a triple to close the scoring.
8:18 L.A.’s control of the game had kept Utah’s fans practically out of the action until a momentary return thanks to a massive one-handed dunk from lil’ Ronnie Price, but Shannon Brown responded immediately with an and-1 that put L.A. up 39-21. Crowd quiet again.
5:23 Remember that 18-point lead? The Lakers may not, having conceded an 11-0 run from the Jazz bench that quickly cut the lead to only seven at 39-32. Utah’s unconventional two point guard line up gave the Lakers problems, as Earl Watson and Price combined for nine of those 11 points just after Gasol went to the bench. It was a rare poor performance for the Killer B’s, as Brown and Blake combined to make only one of nine attempts from the field.
0:00 For a moment, Kobe went into “OK then, I’ll do it myself” mode for a suddenly stagnant Lakers offense, and despite struggling from the field (1-for-6 in the quarter) scored the final five points of the second to counter a 27-11 Jazz run that erased L.A.’s 19-point lead entirely. Gasol didn’t take a shot in eight second quarter minutes after making 5-of-6 in the first, but L.A. still managed to hold a 50-46 lead at the break.
8:08 To underscore the point from the first half, the Lakers continued to take jumpers to open the third, and Phil Jackson wasn’t happy, audibly yelling “Throw the ball inside!” while pointing to Gasol with his players walking in for a time out. In related news, the Jazz had cut the lead to one.
3:58 Odom recovered a loose ball for L.A. and stuck it back in to follow two straight makes from Gasol, as the Lakers did their best to heed Jackson’s plea. But at the other end, the Lakers were struggling to get stops, conceding a Kirilenko three, Millsap layup and two Williams free throws in a 66-all game.
0:00 Well, apparently the guards took their Turkey Trot loss to the bigs tough, because L.A. could hardly get a made field goal out of its backcourt: Bryant (6-for-17); Brown (1-for-6); Blake (0-for-6); Fisher (1-for-6). Yikes. Utah took advantage to take a 75-72 lead into the fourth quarter.
7:35 Still unable to get a field goal to drop from the backcourt, Jackson called a time out to bring Kobe back in to try and reverse fortunes, the Lakers still down three thanks to a good start to the quarter from Odom (16 points, 10 rebounds, five assists).
2:32 And Kobe’s on fire, or NBA JAM “en fuego” if you like. It happened suddenly: after burying back-to-back triples from deep on the left wing, Bryant hit a turnaround jumper to put the Lakers up 90-89, then added another super deep three before finally up-faking Kirilenko into a 3-shot foul. Keeping Utah alive during Kobe’s crazy stretch was Williams, playing terrific ball himself, scoring twice and assisting once to get to 26 points (9-of-13) with 10 assists in a 96-91 lead after Bryant hit all three foul shots to score 14 straight for L.A. (31 total).
1:00 The tables turned suddenly, however, as Utah reeled off a 5-0 run thanks to a Williams’ pull-up three, then his steal and Bell’s breakaway layup to put the Jazz up 98-96. Artest then missed a wild, running jumper to get possession back to the home team.
0:11.6 After Gasol cleared a defensive board, Bryant made the right play at the other end by feeding a wide-open Artest for a corner three … but Artest rimmed out. The Lakers had to foul, and Bell hit both free throws to open a 100-96 lead for Utah, all but putting L.A. away. Two more close misses in the final seconds would finally spell “loss” for the Lakers, who conceded an 11-0 run to close the game.
Next up is a Sunday home game against Indiana. Until then, your numbers:
6 Turnovers in the ballgame for L.A., who played quite well throughout but simply couldn’t convert some wide-open looks.
11 Straight points scored by the Jazz to win the game after Kobe Bryant appeared to get things under control for the visitors. Utah also used an 11-0 run to get back into the mix after a dominant start from L.A.
14 Straight points for Bryant in the fourth quarter, including three long triples in a masterful burst of scoring acumen. Bryant finished with a game-high 21 points.
33 Points scored by the Lakers in a dominant first quarter, when Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol combined to make all eight of their shots while grabbing 10 total rebounds. This allowed L.A. a 33-17 lead that they’d quickly give up in the second quarter.