NBA preseason: Utah Jazz beat L.A. Lakers, 99-86
Los Angeles • Mo Williams somersaulted across the floor, as if the half-court line bisecting the classic, golden Lakers logo were spring-loaded and jerking him away from the play. Above him stood one-fifth of the Lakers' gaudy, revamped lineup.
After he twisted and knocked Williams to the floor, Pau Gasol stuck out his hand offering reconciliation. But Williams strutted past, dipping his shoulder to avoid further contact with Gasol.
"That's just the way I play," Williams said in the locker room following the Jazz's 99-86 win over the Lakers at Staples Center. "These are my teammates in here. If I needed help to get up, they'll help me up."
The message of the snub was clear: The Jazz may not have any future Hall of Famers or titles to back up their swagger, but even in the preseason they won't be wasting time with niceties.
For a young team without an obvious star, a chip on its collective shoulder might be the missing ingredient.
"You kind of have to have that kind of fight and desire in this league, man," coach Tyrone Corbin said. "Teams do things to you, you got to be able to come back and respond to it. I thought we responded to it in a positive way."
On this particular night, the Jazz quickly turned around an 11-point halftime deficit, thanks to an inspired second half from Enes Kanter, who recorded his third double-double of the preseason with 14 points and 14 rebounds.
Mo Williams made two free throws after he was fouled by Gasol, part of a 12-1 run for the Jazz.
The new-look Lakers were everything they were advertised to be. Dwight Howard sat out as he continues to rehab from offseason back surgery, but with Steve Nash in the mix, the Lakers were faster and more dynamic.
On one fast break, Kobe Bryant, who led all scorers with 18 points, passed the ball between his legs to the trailing Gasol. It's not Showtime, but it's clearly go-time for a Lakers team that was built to win another championship before Bryant's career comes to a close.
The Jazz also got better in the offseason, and Saturday's win was just the latest evidence.
The night after six players scored in double figures to beat Oklahoma City at home, five Jazz players scored 10 or more points, led by Kanter and Marvin Williams, who also scored 14.
The Jazz were without veteran power forward Paul Millsap for the second straight game of the exhibition season after he left the team Friday to attend his grandmother's funeral in Atlanta. Point guard Jamaal Tinsley, who also missed Friday's win for personal reasons, returned to the team Saturday morning and scored 11 points for the Jazz.
Other than missing Howard, the Lakers were essentially at full strength. No starter played fewer than 23 minutes, and the Jazz went head to head with them. Marvin Williams matched up with Bryant, and the Jazz tinkered with lineups, at one point playing Kanter as the power forward next to Al Jefferson. Jefferson endorsed the lineup after the game.
"I love it," Jefferson said. "Big Turkey, man, he can guard a 4 like a [Antawn] Jamison, he's rebounding. His post moves are getting better, he's got a great teacher" Jefferson paused for effect and to pound his own chest "so he's all over the floor."
Jazz 99, Lakers 86
R Enes Kanter records his third double-double of the preseason, with 14 points and 14 rebounds.
• Kobe Bryant leads L.A. with 18 points and 8 rebounds.
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