Jazz: No Bryant, no problem
The Lakers didn't have Kobe Bryant on Wednesday night at EnergySolutions Arena.
But they did have Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol and Jordan Farmar.
That was more than enough to dominate the Utah Jazz.
Odom, Gasol and Farmar combined for 65 points on 24-for-35 shooting and the Lakers cooled off the Jazz in the final game before the All-Star break with an emphatic 96-81 win.
The win was the Lakers' third in a row without Bryant, who has been sidelined with a sprained ankle and might not play in Sunday's All-Star Game in Dallas.
"I want him to do what's right for him," coach Phil Jackson said.
In the Lakers' wire-to-wire win over Utah, Odom, Gasol and Farmar played like All-Stars on both ends of the floor.
Defensively, L.A. forced 17 turnovers and held Utah to its lowest point total since an 80-70 loss at Miami on Dec. 23.
Asked about the Lakers' outstanding defense, Farmar said: "We had to. We couldn't let the crowd get into the game. ...
"This building, it's the toughest place to play in the league. They play really well here. So we wanted to keep the intensity up, keep the energy up and keep the momentum on our side."
"In this building, it's kind of easy to get embarrassed and get run out of here," he said. "[But] we wanted to finish the right way, before the break."
Because Bryant was missing, Odom said the Lakers "came in really focused. ... This is a good team, no matter who's in and who's out of the lineup. We've got a lot of guys who can play. Sometimes when you lose a guy or two, the focus is there as a team."
If there was a key moment in this rout, it came with 6:45 left in the game.
After the Jazz crept as close as 79-67, Farmar lost Ronnie Price and buried a 3-pointer.
"Just trying to be aggressive," Farmar said. "Like I said, just trying to make the most of my opportunities. They sagged back on the screen-and-roll and I had an open look and knocked it down."
Odom got the Lakers off to a good start with an 11-point first quarter.
He victimized Carlos Boozer, Memo Okur and Paul Millsap with three old-fashioned three-point plays.
"A lot of times," Odom said, "they were backing off me [and] giving me room. I just decided to take it to them ... and get to the rim."
Lamar Odom's three games against the Jazz this season: