Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Wednesday evening road contest at Utah, the Lakers looking to build on a three-game home winning streak and get their first road win, 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, Barnes, Gasol and Bynum
Jazz: D. Harris, R. Bell, G. Hayward, P. Millsap, A. Jefferson
12:00 While we get the memories of Kobe scoring at absolute will on Tuesday night (NBA season high 48 points), we find a Utah Jazz team far different from the one that was blown out by the Lakers 96-71 back on Dec. 27. Utah, in fact, has won five consecutive games, and is a perfect 5-0 at Energy Solutions Arena, having figured some things out and blending their youth (four lottery picks) with some solid veterans (Jefferson, Millsap, Bell and Harris).
6:00 Halfway through the first, we were back where we started, all tied at 15, with Kobe Bryant scoring just like he did the previous night. By the end of the quarter, he’d have 14 points, including a bucket at the buzzer, to give the Lakers a 26-23 lead.
9:02 A slow start to the half for the Lakers saw Utah go on a 6-0 run, L.A.’s second unit struggling to make shots, though a layup from Darius Morris — the Los Angeles native playing in his first career game — broke the streak.
0:00 Bynum’s third block and Kobe’s 21st point of the half closed the half strong for L.A., though they still trailed 42-41 at the break. Turnovers continued to plague the Lakers, with nine of them resulting in several Utah run outs.
8:49 Both teams ripped off runs to start the third, L.A.’s 4-0 and Utah’s 5-0, before a Kobe jumper and Bynum alley-oop drop in put the Lakers up 49-48. Assistant coach Quin Snyder called the team’s first half effort a bit “discombobulated,” with nine turnovers and some sloppy offense, but said the coaches were pretty pleased to be within a single point out of the break all things considered.
3:16 Four straight free throws from Kobe got him to 31 points (his fifth time with 30 plus in the past six games), and L.A. its biggest lead at 59-53. The defense had gotten better, Utah hitting only four of 12 field goals, even prompting defensive specialist Chuck Person off his seat on the bench to show his approval.
1:06 A run-stopping three-pointer from Steve Blake allowed and the second hoop from rookie Darius Morris allowed the Lakers to keep a 66-61 lead heading into the fourth quarter, buying the team some extra time with Bryant resting on the bench. On the other hand, Blake suffered a rib contusion, and was called questionable to return.
6:00 Once again, we were tied, the seventh time of the game this time at 69, as Jefferson tipped in an Earl Watson missed layup. L.A. had managed only three points in the first six minutes of the quarter, but converted a beautiful out of bounds play to get a Bynum alley-oop layup from the baseline.
2:41 A very defensive half continued, the score in the quarter just 10-6 Utah as L.A. clung to a 1-point lead. We know how physical Utah plays at home, and tonight was no exception, but a terrific stretch of plays from Barnes helped L.A. to a 74-71 lead after he stripped Harris on one end, sprinted up the floor and made a lay up at the other to give him 11 points and five boards. Next, a tough baseline jumper from Kobe to make it a 76-71 game as the clock ticked down.
0:00 The Jazz made two big plays to ultimately send the game to overtime, first getting a tying three from Howard, then a tip-in from Millsap to counter Bryant’s baseline jumper. L.A. did have a chance to win in the final seconds, however, but Bryant missed a jumper left after being left isolated with Bell defending. As such …
4:00 Millsap took over early in overtime, making two shots, the stripping Gasol on the other end. Howard missed a runner that would have put the Jazz up six, however, and Kobe pulled up for a three-pointer that cut Utah’s lead to one.
What a final stanza of overtime. Let’s review:
- After Bryant’s three, Utah took 17 seconds to answer with a triple from Howard, putting the lead right back to four.
- Gasol converted two free throws, cutting the lead in half, then hit the biggest shot of L.A.’s young season, a corner triple off Bryant’s pass (and penetration) that put the Lakers up 86-85 with two minutes to play. After the game, Gasol said that he was just hoping like crazy for the shot to find a home through the net as it was in the air, while Bryant said that if people think Tim Tebow prays a lot, he said about 20 Hail Mary’s urging that Spanish triple home.
- Then it was Bynum time, the center first tipping home a near miss from Kobe with 51 seconds left to make it a three point game. Utah got a jumper from Millsap to cut it back to one, and after another Bryant miss, Bynum flew home to save the game. Gordon Hayward’s penetration got Al Jefferson a low post catch, but Bynum was there to swat Jefferson’s shot with 1.9 seconds to go. Kobe cleared the rebound, sank two foul shots to reach 40 points in back to back games for the first time since Nov. of 2009, and the Lakers had their first road win.
Still with us? All right.
Your final score: 90-87, Lakers, a fourth straight win to push L.A.’s record to 8-4 on the season, and 8-2 in the last 10.