Utah Jazz lose to troubled Lakers 102-84
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.
Hoping to record their first-ever regular-season sweep of the Lakers, the Jazz instead lost 102-84 in a game they never led and rarely threatened.
The loss snapped a four-game winning streak for the Jazz (23-20). The re-energized 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.
"In my mind," Tyrone Corbin said before the game, "they'll get it figured out. I just don't want them to get it figured out tonight."
Minutes later, he watched his team fall behind 15-4 to the team that began the season as the Western Conference favorites.
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 9 rebounds.
"We understand what Kobe can do," Randy Foye said. "We understand what Dwight [can do], Steve Nash, all of them. They've got great names over there, but we beat them twice already. It's all about us."
In the second half, former Laker Rick Fox was caught on the overhead KissCam with his girlfriend, actress Eliza Dushku. But their smooch wasn't all that was sloppy.
While five Jazz players scored in double figures, led by 14 points from Derrick Favors, they shot just 42 percent from the field and missed 11 of their 14 3-point attempts.
Al Jefferson struggled for the second game in a row, making just 5 of his 14 attempts and finishing with 12 points and 7 rebounds.
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.
"They were able to get the shots they wanted," Corbin said. "They attacked the basket."
Before Friday, the Jazz had, for the first time in franchise history, won four straight games against the Lakers. However, the Jazz this time were just one point off their worst offensive outing of the season. With the victory, the Lakers improved to 18-25.
The Jazz were impressive against the Lakers first at home on Nov. 7, winning 95-86, then in a 117-110 victory at Staples Center on Dec. 9.
Although the Jazz have been rolling along, racking up wins and moving up the standings, they have struggled to protect leads. It stood to reason, then, that once they spotted the Lakers a lead, the Jazz would not be able to overcome it.
Once in the second half, however, they nearly did.
The Jazz cut the lead to 61-58 with 2:37 remaining in the third quarter after Earl Watson slung a lob pass to Favors for a dunk.
However, the Lakers ran off three-straight 3-pointers on consecutive possessions, then got a dunk from Jodie Meeks to end the period with a 72-63 lead.
Gordon Hayward called the sequence devastating.
"That's 11 points," Hayward said. "Especially when you fight all the way back and give yourselves a chance and let that happen. But they made plays, how they draw and kick, they're very difficult to guard."
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.
"I think you could tell they were the more desperate team tonight," Hayward said. "We just have to be better."
The Jazz have been bad in back-to-backs this season not an encouraging sign with Indiana coming to EnergySolutions Arena on Saturday. The Jazz have not won both games of back-to-backs in 10 attempts this season, but they are 4-3 in the second game after losing the first.
O The Jazz's four-game winning streak is snapped in one of their poorest offensive outings of the season.
• Kobe Bryant leads the Lakers with a near triple-double: 14 points, 14 assists and nine rebounds.
• The Jazz face the Indiana Pacers on Saturday at EnergySolutions Arena.
Pacers at Jazz
O Saturday, 7:30 p.m.
TV • ROOT Sports, NBA TV. Radio • 1280 AM, 97.5 FM
Season series • Pacers 1-0
About the Jazz • The last time the Jazz played the Pacers, on Dec. 19, Indiana won 104-84 in Indianapolis. ... Leading scorer Al Jefferson tallied a season-low 4 points in that game.
About the Pacers • Small forward Paul George was selected to his first All-Star team this week. ... George leads the Pacers with 17.3 points per game.