Jazz down and out in L.A., lose 120-91
Los Angeles • Paul Millsap, Raja Bell and Deron Williams looked absolutely miserable. Their tense, frustrated faces had turned to stone. Their heads dropped low and hung downward. And the blowout was not even close to being complete.
The Jazz hit the gutter in Hollywood on Tuesday night.
Utah was embarrassed and utterly outplayed by the Lakers, as the struggling Jazz suffered their fifth-consecutive loss, 120-91 at the Staples Center.
It tied Utah's largest margin of defeat this season and marked the first time in more than three years that the directionless Jazz (27-18) have dropped five straight games.
Deron Williams scored 17 points and recorded eight assists for Utah, which trailed by as many as 38 points midway through the fourth quarter.
Williams started the season declaring his hatred for the Lakers, who have knocked Utah out of the playoffs three consecutive seasons.
Los Angeles responded by obliterating the Jazz on Tuesday. And the Jazz's All-Star guard and team leader was forced to watch the entire fourth quarter from the bench.
Williams said that he could not remember the last time Utah has struggled like this. And the player who hates to lose was already preparing to erase the vision of what he had just seen from his mind.
"Games like this you just want to forget about," Williams said. "It's embarrassing."
Kobe Bryant's 21 points topped the Lakers (33-13), who shot 62 percent from the field and distributed a season-high 34 assists on 44 made field goals.
"That's fun," Los Angeles forward Lamar Odom said. "That's basketball when you're 7 years old. Out there having fun with the game, and the ball just goes in."
When a media member pointed out after the melee that Los Angeles was a good team, Jazz coach Jerry Sloan wondered if the person was selling the Lakers short.
"They're a great team," Sloan said.
Utah's loss followed a lackluster 0-4 road trip that saw the team fall to three of the Eastern Conference's worst squads and endure a 24-point blowout by Boston.
But that was not the only losing streak that continued for a Jazz team that is still searching for the "rock bottom" that guard Bell thought the squad would find after its East Coast swoon.
Utah entered Tuesday's contest having lost 16 consecutive road games to the Lakers, during a stretch that dated back to Jan. 1, 2006.
Now it is 17.
Los Angeles' home-court dominance over Utah continued. As did the Jazz's sudden and at times startling midseason nosedive.
The Jazz's plummet was best captured by Bell, who spent the initial part of a postgame interview session slumped down hard in a chair. A hand covered his entire face as the proud veteran leader wondered where his Â and his team's Â rhythm had gone.
"There's nothing you can take away from that game," a soft-spoken Bell said.
Utah has resorted to a series of personal challenges, team vows and lineup changes during the fall. But nothing has worked.
Sloan tweaked his starting lineup again Tuesday, inserting forward C.J. Miles into the first rotation and moving rookie Gordon Hayward back to the bench. Miles responded by pouring in Utah's first seven points and finishing with 14.
But Sloan primarily made the move to spark his listless, unorganized team, and no fire ever appeared. The Jazz's offense was a mess. Meanwhile, Utah's defense was constantly abused and exploited by a selfless Lakers offensive attack that zipped the ball around the perimeter and through the paint with the precision and style that was associated with Sloan's team just two weeks ago.
But that was when Utah was still playing through its faults, and overcoming its flaws with energy, effort and execution Â all three of which were difficult to find Tuesday during a game that was basically over before the first half was complete.
"They broke us down," Sloan said.
Lakers 120, Jazz 91
R IN SHORT • The Jazz are blown out as Los Angeles shoots 62.3 percent (43 of 69) from the field.
Spurs at Jazz
P Wednesday, 7:30 p.m.
TV • ESPN, FSN Utah