Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Tuesday evening home contest agianst the Utah Jazz, the Lakers looking to bounce back from just their second loss since the All-Star break, 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, Gasol and Bynum
Jazz: E. Watson, C.J. Miles, P. Millsap, D. Favors, A. Jefferson
5:00 Our early eyes were on the respective knees of Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, both of whom had to leave Sunday’s loss in the fourth quarter (Gasol returned and finished the game). Bynum practiced fully on Monday and said he was fine, while Gasol’s MRI revealed a bone bruise but nothing structurally wrong, meaning he was fine to start the game. As it were, both players looked like absolutely nothing was wrong: Gasol scored 10 points with two assists and a block, outscoring Utah (eight points) himself; Bynum grabbed five boards and ran up and down just fine, and L.A. led 20-10 thanks largely to an earlier 10-0 spurt.
2:52 Gasol checked out with a game-high 12 points on 4-of-5 from both the field and the line, his bone bruise apparently helping him play better?
0:00 Leading by as many as 10 at 20-10, L.A. allowed Utah to get back in it with a 10-4 run to close the quarter. L.A.’s bench has not been consistently good of late, something that Phil Jackson and Lamar Odom talked about at Monday’s practice. Their basic contention was it’s been about a lack of execution, not effort.
7:43 L.A.’s second unit just hasn’t gotten anything going offensively of late, a trend that continued against the Jazz, who rallied from 10 down to tie the game at 24. Shannon Brown typified the unit’s struggles, missing all three of his shots. Brown, in fact, had not scored in double figures in eight games.
6:15 Brown’s amazing dunk on an alley-oop from Blake (who’d also tossed one to Barnes), distracted from the bench struggles to create good shots in the triangle. Nonetheless, it put L.A. back up by six.
0:00 Behind eight offensive boards and seven second chance points in the half, Utah managed to stay close at 40-34 despite being held to 33 percent shooting. An area where L.A. hasn’t been terrific this season is on the defensive glass, and this despite being ranked seventh in the NBA in that area. That’s a theory one could poke holes in, however, as L.A.’s paint defense is so good that teams have to settle for a variety of long-range jumpers, which produce better chances at grabbing offensive boards.
8:44 L.A.’s starters failed to score in the first three minutes of the second half, until two Gasol free throws, a Fisher jumper and back-to-back Bryant hoops — the first a result of a fantastic defensive play from Artest on Millsap — opened a 48-42 margin.
4:45 You know how Bynum’s focused on rebounding and defense since the break? Well, he reminded us by grabbing his 19th rebound, a career high, while blocking two shots and discouraging or changing many more. Apparently he didn’t have the same focus on offense, however, as he’d made only 2-of-10 shots, with L.A. up 50-46 despite shooting 37 percent.
0:00 That percentage dropped down further to 35.7 percent, including 0-for-12 from three-point land, allowing Utah to head into the fourth quarter tied at 57. Bryant was just 2-for-8, Artest 2-for-6, Brown 1-for-4, Odom 3-for-8 and Bynum 3-for-11. The 57 points through three were the lowest L.A. had scored all season.
9:40 Such were LAL’s offensive struggles that Odom’s shot was so off, it actually went in off glass from three-point range. He, being Odom, just smiled, and clapped towards L.A.’s bench. Fisher was with him, standing to clap along, though he looked serious.
8:20 One thing the Lakers were doing really well: swatting shots. The total was 13, with Bynum and Artest blocking four apiece, to establish a new team season high. The last time L.A. blocked 15 shots? Dec. 3, 2002 vs. Memphis. In unrelated news, Utah took a 63-62 lead on two Millsap (22 points) free throws.
4:00 Though L.A.’s energy was finally matching that of Utah, the Jazz had entered the “We believe” portion of the program, continuing to convert despite increased Lakers pressure. But offense had returned to the champs, with Bynum, Gasol and Artest (a three) all scoring to give L.A. a 76-75 lead.
0:06.0 Three three-pointers left the fingers of Kobe Bryant in the final two minutes and change, and two swished home, tying the game at 85 with 16 seconds left. Gordon Hayward drew a foul while driving to the hoop at the other end, and after missing the first free throw, sank the second for a one-point lead, setting up an improbable play…
0:00 For how many game-winning shots Bryant has made (including seven last season alone) it was pretty shocking for everyone, including him, to see the ball go off his hands out of bounds as time expired. Bryant had up-faked Hayward and was trying to step through, but lost it going up, L.A. losing for the second straight time at home in the process.
3 Games back in the loss column to San Antonio, 19 to 22, all but locking the Lakers into the second seed at best out West despite their huge streak out of the All-Star break (17-1) and a six-game losing streak from San Antonio, who led by nine games just before the break.
13 Blocks for the Lakers, a season high. Andrew Bynum had four, as did Ron Artest.
18 Straight wins for the Lakers over Utah at STAPLES … until this one, minus Jerry Sloan and Deron Williams.
19 Turnovers for the Lakers a game after they committed 20 in a Sunday loss to Denver.
23 Rebounds for Bynum, one of the few bright spots for the Lakers in a poor all-around game.
32 Minutes for Pau Gasol a game after he tweaked his right knee, causing an MRI that revealed a bone bruise. He moved well throughout, finishing with 19 points, five boards and four assists.
37.8 L.A.’s shooting percentage in the game, with Kobe Bryant going only 6-for-18, Bynum 5-for-13, Artest 3-for-8, Lamar Odom 5-for-12, Shannon Brown 2-for-6, Derek Fisher 0-for-2, Luke Walton 0-for-4. Gasol (5-for-10) and Matt Barnes (2-for-4) were the only Lakers to make at least half their shots.