Utah Jazz fall 102-84 as Lakers finally jell
Los Angeles • The Lakers finally played nice with each other and the Jazz simply didn't play well.
It was a bad combination for a team looking to make a little history.
Looking for their first-ever regular-season sweep of the Lakers, the Jazz lost 102-84 in a game they never led and rarely threatened. It snapped a four-game winning streak for the Jazz (23-20). The Lakers, meanwhile, turned around a four-game skid and finally found synergy between the host of superstars who, prior to Friday, have largely struggled to coexist.
You could say the Jazz had no synergy solutions.
Dwight Howard played above the rim, slamming home lob after lob, Metta World Peace made five 3-pointers and Kobe Bryant flirted with a triple-double.
Bryant finished with 14 points, 14 assists and nine rebounds.
Before Friday, the Jazz had, for the first time in franchise history, won four straight games against the Lakers. However, this time the Jazz were just one point off tehrir worst offensive outing of the season.
With the win, the Lakers improved to 18-25, and, if the one-time Western Conference favorites can capture what they had against Utah, they truly did improve.
The Lakers entered the season with sky-high expectations after adding two-time MVP Steve Nash and Howard to an already impressive lineup. However, the team has been a disaster and entering Friday was nearer last place in the standings than a playoff position.
While the Jazz had been impressive in wins against the Lakers first at home in November then at Staples Center in December, they had little to offer this time around.
They never trailed by more than 12 points, but never led either. After the Jazz cut the lead to 61-58 in the third quarter after a lob from Earl Watson to Derrick Favors, the Lakers ran off three straight 3-pointers on consecutive possessions.
Derrick Favors led the Jazz with 14 points off the bench and five Jazz players reached double figures. However, Al Jefferson struggled for the second game in a row, making just five of his 14 attempts, finishing with 12 points and 7 rebounds.
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The Jazz were inefficient through the game, shooting just 42 percent from the field, missing 11 of their 14 3-point attempts. They failed to rotate on defense, allowing the Lakers to shoot 53.8 percent and outscore them 54 to 38 on points in the paint.
The area where the Jazz are supposed to have an advantage over most teams in the post was where the Jazz were completely outplayed. Howard finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds, and the Lakers won the rebounding battle 45 to 29.
The Jazz have been bad in back-to-backs this season, a bad sign with Indiana playing at EnergySolutions Arena on Saturday. The Jazz had not won both games of back-to-backs in 10 attempts this season, but are 4-3 in the second game after losing the first.
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