Los Angeles • These are challenging times in Laker Land.
Dwight Howard is gone, Kobe Bryant’s in street clothes and the Lakers, losers of three straight, came home this weekend from a preseason trip in China to find that the city’s new darlings — the Clippers — have started to cover up the 16 championship banners that hang at Staples Center.
O Utah jumps out to a 9-0 start and led by as much as 12.
» The Lakers turn a six-point first-quarter deficit into a six-point lead by halftime.
» L.A. shoots 10 for 25 from beyond the arc.
But the slumping Lakers put an end to their preseason skid Tuesday night, thanks to a Utah Jazz team that continued one of its own.
The Jazz surrendered a 12-point first-half lead, falling 108-94 to the Lakers to open a three-game preseason trip in Southern California. It was the Jazz’s fifth consecutive loss.
Utah’ Justin Holiday hit a 3-pointer late in the first quarter to give the Jazz a 25-13 lead over the Lakers.
But against a unit largely comprised of bench players and roster hopefuls, L.A. opened up the second quarter with an 8-0 run. So when Xavier Henry stole a pass at midcourt and finished the breakaway slam over Holiday, the Lakers had the lead — something they would not relinquish the rest of the way.
"We had a group out there for a while, that second group, that made some mistakes for us," Jazz coach Ty Corbin said, "and they got some runs out of that second group."
The Jazz had 21 turnovers, 11 from the bench, leading to 25 Lakers points.
The Jazz jumped out to a fast start while the Lakers looked like they left their jump shooting at Customs. Utah went up 9-0, and led by as much as a dozen, as the Lakers missed their first seven shots from the floor.
After rough shooting performances in its last two games, Utah shot better than 55 percent in the first quarter.
But Utah would eventually cool. For the third straight game, the Jazz finished shooting under 40 percent from the field.
"We had open shots. We just missed them," said guard Alec Burks, who finished with 14 points off the bench. "It’s early. It’s preseason. They’ll fall. We ain’t worried about it."
As the Jazz cooled, the Lakers kept firing from long range. L.A. hit 10 of its 25 attempts from beyond the arc, as the Lakers’ backups fueled the comeback.
Jordan Farmar, Jodie Meeks, Wesley Johnson and Jordan Hill combined for 59 points off the bench.
The Jazz fought their way back into the game behind the hot shooting of forward Brian Cook, who finished with 18 points as he fights for a roster spot.
Free agent Scott Machado had another chance to make his case in the battle for Utah’s third point guard spot. After missing Sunday night’s game in Oklahoma City with an injury, Machado got extended minutes, notching four assists, but missing all six of his shots.
The Jazz had six players reach double-digit scoring, including power forward Derrick Favors who had 10 points and 13 rebounds on the night. Swingman Gordon Hayward had 15 points to go along with four assists and four rebounds.
How much does it all mean? Lakers’ coach Mike D’Antoni says not much.
"Well I think every coach right now is confident," he told reporters after the win. "I’m sure Custer was confident before he went to Little Bighorn, too. He was hootin’ and hollerin’ and probably happy as heck, so that’s how we are right now. Talk to me in December and we’ll have a more serious discussion."
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