Los Angeles • At his locker before the game, Gordon Hayward reflected back for a moment on the first 50 games of a season he called a "roller coaster of emotions."
"Obviously with the amount of losses it’s been a little more difficult to swallow some of the games. There definitely have been some tough learning experiences," the fourth-year swingman said. "There have also been some games where you’re, like, ‘Damn. We can be pretty good.’ "
Jazz 96,Lakers 79
O The Jazz survive an early 19-0 run by the Lakers.
» Utah’s bench outscores the Lakers’ reserves 51-21.
» Jazz improve to 18-33, jumping past the 18-34 Lakers in the Western Conference standings.
The Jazz showed flashes of both Tuesday.
But in a battle of two of the West’s worst, the Jazz emerged victorious, beating the Lakers 96-79 behind a 24-point performance by backup shooting guard Alec Burks.
In the first quarter, the Jazz built up a quick 7-0 lead and then sat back, seemingly content to let the Lakers run wild. Utah went scoreless over a stretch of nearly six minutes while the Lakers scored 19 straight points.
Hayward air balled an open jumper. The rest of the Jazz starters struggled to hit, too. Utah’s 16 first quarter points were the second fewest by an opponent all season, worse only than a previous Jazz effort.
But something clicked in the second quarter with Burks and the bench, who helped the Jazz outscore the Lakers 32-10 in the period.
The Jazz clamped down defensively, too, limiting L.A.’s ball movement and closing out better on 3-point shots.
"When we play the right way, we can beat anybody," said Burks, who slashed to the rim often and converted on 8 of his 11 attempts for the night.
For Burks, it was the ninth time this season he’s scored 20 or more points.
"You can tell from the beginning if he’s active and he’s engaged he’s going to go for a good night," said Hayward, who had 15 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. "You could tell right away that was going to happen."
The Lakers were shorthanded, no doubt. Plagued by injury all year long, L.A. was without five of its top six scorers Tuesday night.
Lakers point guard Steve Nash played 17 minutes in the first half before sitting out the second with the same nerve root irritation that has caused him to miss all but 10 games so far this year. In his place, backup point guard Kendall Marshall, who torched the Jazz for 20 points and 15 assists in the teams’ last meeting, was limited to just seven points and seven assists.
The Jazz bench, meanwhile, looked quite healthy.
Jeremy Evans had 14 points and five rebounds. Enes Kanter had six points and 11 boards. In total, the Utah reserves out-scored L.A.’s 51-21.
For L.A., Chris Kaman used his size inside to score 25 points, though he needed 24 shots to get there. Kaman also grabbed 14 rebounds. But the Jazz won the battle on the glass, too, out-rebounding L.A. by a margin of 55 to 40.
L.A. forwards Wesley Johnson and Shawne Williams combined for 26 points.
Jazz point guard Trey Burke had eight points, eight assists and four rebounds. Forward Derrick Favors finished with 11 points and eight rebounds.
With the win, the Jazz improved to 18-33 on the season. The Lakers, meanwhile, dropped to 18-34.
The Jazz return to Salt Lake City for a Wednesday night for one last game before the All-Star break, a matchup with the Philadelphia 76ers, a team coming off consecutive 40-point losses.
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