What others are saying: Lakers fizzle at the end, lose to Jazz
SALT LAKE CITY — Kobe Bryant was on one of those rolls, filling a road arena with buzz by hitting five consecutive shots in the fourth quarter.
It still wasn't enough for the Los Angeles Lakers, whose run of five consecutive victories ended Friday night.
The Utah Jazz forced the ball out of Bryant's hands down the stretch and won, 102-96. The Lakers went scoreless after Bryant scored 14 consecutive Lakers points for a 96-91 lead with 2:32 to play.
Bryant did commit a turnover with 1:05 to play trying to break free from a trap and said afterward there was "miscommunication" between him and Pau Gasol on the play. But Gasol said: "That wasn't a miscommunication. I made the wrong decision. I decided to do something different on the play. He wasn't expecting it."
Utah took the lead on that play, Raja Bell getting an uncontested layup at the other end. The Lakers were muted thereafter. Bryant passed to Ron Artest on two subsequent possessions, but Artest missed a difficult 15-foot fadeaway after dribbling out of the corner and across the lane, and then he rattled out an open corner 3-pointer.
Bryant said he wanted Artest to shoot the first one upon catching the ball and told Artest he would "give you another crack at it." Artest missed out on giving the Lakers the lead, though, with 14.9 seconds left.
Artest, who hasn't played some late fourth quarters this season because of Shannon Brown's emergence, was soft-spoken afterward. About the earlier shot Bryant wanted him to let fly, Artest said: "I was open, but I felt good coming off the dribble."
The Lakers led by 19 points early in the second quarter before hitting what Coach Phil Jackson called a "flat spot." Bryant started 5 for 16 from the field, then forced Utah to swarm him at the end.
"Everybody in the building knows ... who's going to get the ball the last four minutes of the game," Utah's C.J. Miles said. "The last three of the four years they've ran that same play the last three or four minutes of the game."
Said Deron Williams, who had 29 points and 12 assists for the Jazz: "Any time a guy like that gets into a rhythm, you have to get the ball out of his hands."
(c) 2010, The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.).
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