Jazz Manage 6-points in 4th, Lose Big to Lakers, 101-77
Riding a 9-game winning streak, the Los Angeles Lakers made it 10-in-a-row with a 101-77 win over the visiting Utah Jazz at Staples Center. Sporting their green throwback jerseys, the Jazz may want to burn their jerseys after their 4th quarter collapse which saw them score only 6 points. The Lakers totally dominated the Jazz on defense, forcing them into careless turnovers and numerous shot clock violations. They went the first 7:25 of the 4th period before they scored their first field. They shot 2-15 and also committed 10 turnovers, not to mention silly fouls which only added to their woes.
The length of the Lakers bothered the Jazz early as Pau Gasol (19 points, 12 rebounds) scored inside with ease and also dominated play on the boards. But he got little rebounding help from his teammates as the long distance shooting of Mehmet Okur (14 points, 8 rebounds) kept the Jazz close in the early going. As with all Jerry Sloan teams, the Jazz exhibited good ball movement and managed to stay even with the Lakers after the first period, 24-24.
Utah took the lead 31-26 after opening the 2nd quarter on a 7-2 run. The Lakers then began taking the ball inside and got scores from Andrew Bynum (14 points, 4 rebounds) and Kobe Bryant (27 points, 8 assists, 6 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 blocked shots) but Carlos Boozer (11 points, 12 rebounds) took advantage of his quickness against Bynum and was able to find his cutters slashing to the basket. Bynum countered with his height advantage and turned to face up on Boozer. Turnovers began creeping up on the Lakers as the Jazz gained confidence and momentum, holding on to a 41-35 lead with 5:51 left in the half. The Lakers brought all of their starters back into the game and capitalized inside the paint again. A three-point play by Gasol off a feed by Kobe gave the lead back to the Lakers 42-41. But the Jazz, with their 11 first half offensive rebounds, played harder than the home fed Lakers and ended the first half ahead, 52-48.
The Jazz continued their effective play to start the third period by stripping the ball out of the hands of the lackluster Lakers. They ran their offensive sets with discipline and found easy buckets as the Lakers scrambled to react on defense. Deron Williams (17 points, 8 assists) got untracked as he forced Derek Fisher to the bench and continually took Shannon Brown off the dribble stretching their lead to eight points. The Lakers finally made some noise as Kobe exploited his smaller defenders inside the paint on post moves. His assist to Gasol off the double team gave the lead back to the Lakers, 67-65. Jordan Farmar’s (11 points, 4 rebounds, 2 steals) three-pointer from the top of the key gave them a 73-71 lead to end the third period as the urgency of the contest finally seemed to hit home.
Missed free throws to start the 4th quarter prevented the Lakers from taking full control of the game as the Jazz hit the wall offensively. The Lakers dominated the Jazz on defense forcing numerous turnovers and poor shot selection. A rare Sasha Vujacic trey extended the Lakers lead to 80-73 as the Jazz quickly called time-out in an effort to regroup. But the cold spell continued as the Lakers started heating up. A Ron Artest (16 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists) three-pointer from the corner followed by a hesitation jumper by Kobe, then a Farmar drive to the hoop, and one, amounted to a 14-0 run by the Lakers. Defense took a firm hold as the Lakers smelled blood, forced Utah into a 24-second shot clock violation and holding them to 0-10 from the field.
Another shot clock violation by Utah resulted in Artest getting two free throws at the other end for a 92-73 lead with 5:10 left in the game. A Farmar steal led to a Lamar Odom (7 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocked shots) fast break, who bounced the ball between his legs to a trailing Artest, who then flipped the ball over his head to a flashing Farmar for the easy layup. Sloan threw in the towel shortly thereafter as Odom started auditioning for the Harlem Globetrotters with an around the back pass to a streaking Gasol. The crowd oohed and ahhed but Gasol was unable to catch the pass cleanly and had to settle for a pair of free throws. Phil Jackson began pulling his starters as Utah’s offensive futility continued. The Jazz managed to score only 6 points in the entire 4th quarter which resulted in a miserable 33.7% for the game. What had been a highly competitive game for three quarters turned into a lopsided victory with the Lakers outscoring the Jazz, 28-6 in the final stanza.