Michael Brandy, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — The timing couldn't have been worse for the Utah Jazz to play one of their worst quarters of the season.
With their season on the brink in their 111-96 elimination loss to the Lakers in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals on Monday night, the Jazz went ice cold from the field in the second quarter. They made just five baskets and shot 31.3 percent. They were outscored 29-17.
Utah's struggles were the result of a combination of poor shooting, a stagnant offense and solid defense by the Lakers.
"They came out tonight and they put it on us tough," coach Jerry Sloan said of the Lakers. "They were tough to deal with. They got us out of sync because their defense was so good. Every shot you get is tough. They make you earn it."
And it was a night, or at least a second quarter, where the Jazz didn't do much earning.
"Offensively, we were just kind of standing around," said Utah forward C.J. Miles. "We didn't really run our sets. That forced guys to take tough shots."
The Jazz's second quarter problems were somewhat of a surprise, considering they did a fairly nice job of running their sets in the first quarter. But the Lakers may have gotten a psychological boost over Utah late in the first period. Pau Gasol hit a 12-foot jumper, and Shannon Brown blew past Kyle Korver and dunked, giving the Lakers a 29-24 lead at the end of the first.
The next quarter was all downhill for Utah.
Paul Millsap was the only Jazz player to make baskets in the first eight minutes of the second quarter. He hit a layup and a fadeway while his teammates couldn't throw it in the ocean. Utah's degree of difficulty wasn't any worse than usual in the second quarter, as the team attempted just one 3-pointer in the period.
The Jazz fell behind by their largest margin in the second quarter, as they trailed 57-35 with 1:12 left before halftime. That deficit proved to be insurmountable against a team as talented and experienced as the Lakers.
Turnovers were also a major problem for the Jazz in the second quarter, as they committed six of them in the period.
"Turnovers got us out of sync," Miles said. "That led to them getting easy baskets, or just getting into the flow of their offense."
Utah's defense wasn't all that great in the second, either. The Lakers shot 47.6 percent in the period and got a balanced effort with eight different players scoring. Gasol led the way, scoring seven of his game-high 33 points. Los Angeles committed just one turnover in the second period.
Miles summed up Utah's struggles in the second quarter quite simply.
"They scored and we didn't," he said.
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