Anaheim, Calif. • Savor it, Jazz fans: It won’t be often this season that a Western Conference opponent makes these Lakers look like the Washington Generals.
For the third preseason game in a row, the Jazz were an offensive thrill-ride, scoring at will, usually before the Lakers had a chance to set up defensively. The Jazz won 114-80, in a game that featured no Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard or, for the Jazz, Mo Williams.
Jazz 114, Lakers 80Seven Jazz players reach double digits in the win.
» Kobe Bryant is 9-of-11 from the field in the third quarter, but no other Laker scores a field goal. Bryant finishes with 31 points.
Jazz at ClippersWednesday
8:30 p.m., TV ≥ ROOT
There was, however, plenty of offense. And this time, they added defense: 12 of the Lakers’ 18 turnovers were steals. After trailing 12-11, the Jazz locked down and by halftime led 52-32.
"This means nothing," Randy Foye said. "If we do this during the regular season, then it matters. But this doesn’t mean anything right now."
The Jazz maintained their new, rapid pace despite the absence of point guard Mo Williams, who sat out to rest a strained adductor in his groin. Veteran Jamaal Tinsley started at point guard and, despite not being as fleet as Williams, was successful at maintaining the pace with quick passes to advance the ball and deferring to other players to carry the ball up the court quickly.
"We’ve got more than enough guys that can get the rebound and start the offense and start the transition break," Gordon Hayward said.
Hayward led seven Jazz players in double figures with 13 points. Tinsley added eight, as did Paul Millsap playing in his first game since rejoining the team after missing two games to attend his grandmother’s funeral.
By the time the Jazz finally got a taste of what the Lakers — or at least Kobe Bryant — are capable of, the game was well in hand. Bryant scored 23 points on 9-of-11 shooting in the third quarter, but the rest of the Lakers were 0-for-7.
For all the superlatives you could unleash to describe the Jazz on Tuesday night, you might as well be describing the Southern California weather.
Like weather, a basketball team is never as good as you want it to be. There’s always a cloud or some other blemish.
Coach Tyrone Corbin said, "defensively, we’re still getting better" and that the second unit, with Foye at the point, was better in transition than the Jazz’s starters.
"We want to see where we are in our development," Corbin said. "That’s more important than anything else, and I thought we showed some good things tonight."
The good things, in no particular order:
Eleven Jazz players scored eight or more points. The Jazz scored 30 fast-break points, and 27 off of turnovers. Everyone who played scored. They were 9-of-16 on 3-pointers, and Foye, who struggled from the perimeter in the preseason, was 2-of-3.
And that defense. It couldn’t be measured only in turnovers and steals and blocks (the Jazz had seven), but also in the way the Jazz actively filled lanes and deflected passes and forced awkward and awful shots.
"I think we’ve worked extremely hard defensively on the weak side and helping people out," Hayward said. "Trying to get better with that, I think we’re on the road, I think we’ve still got a long ways to go."
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