Utah Jazz lose in La-La Land

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 26 2011 12:02 a.m. MST

Los Angeles Lakers guard Derek Fisher (2) gets by Utah Jazz center Al Jefferson (25) for a basket in the first half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011, in Los Angeles.

Gus Ruelas, Associated Press

Jazz at Lakers boxscore

LOS ANGELES — The struggling Utah Jazz have been in need of something — anything, everything — to help spark them out of a season-worst slump.

Scratch playing the Los Angeles Lakers off the ailing team's list of possible remedies.

For this night, their third starting lineup change in a row did nothing to help matters. Neither did playing sluggishly and sloppily, not executing or missing a slew of shots.

All that resulted in the Jazz getting shellacked in the Staples Center, 120-91, while playing arguably their worst game of the season against an inspired Los Angeles Lakers squad.

It doesn't get any easier tonight for the Jazz, who return to EnergySolutions Arena from a disastrous five-game stretch away from home with five consecutive losses and a match-up with the NBA-leading San Antonio Spurs.

If anybody has any extra amnesia pills, the Jazz (27-18) — and fans who opted to stay up late to watch — might swallow them up.

"Games like this you just want to forget about. It was embarrassing," a very down Jazz point guard Deron Williams said. "Hopefully, we'll get home and it will be a different story."

How humiliatingly bad was it?

For a while, it made the Jazz's co-biggest loss of the season — the 29-point blowout to the New Orleans Hornets in December — look like a tight nail-biter.

This one — Utah's 17th straight loss to the Lakers in L.A. — might have even stung more than last week's stumbles in Washington and New Jersey.

The Jazz missed 14 of 22 shots in the first quarter, while allowing the Lakers to hit 72.2 percent, and ended up with yet another poor overall shooting performance of 41.9 percent.

"I was worried about something like this happening after we couldn't execute, we couldn't get stops against some of the worst teams in the NBA and we're playing one of the best and we hadn't won here in a while," Williams said. "It was a dangerous game."

Paul Millsap hit a jumper to trim L.A.'s lead to 14-13 in the first quarter, but the Lakers did just about everything right while building a lead as big as 38 points after that.

On defense, the Lakers stifled the Jazz with their superior length and an actively swarming defense that seemed to take residence in the Jazz's passing lanes.

Five Jazz turnovers in the first quarter helped the Lakers take a commanding 37-22 lead after the opening period. Ron Artest, Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher each had steals in a 75-second stretch as L.A. stormed to a double-digit lead on a 13-3 run to blow the game and Utah's fragile confidence open early on.

This fired-up team played nothing like the one that Laker legend Jerry West recently said looked like an aging team that didn't defend well.

Los Angeles had 11 steals (of the Jazz's 17 turnovers) and stymied the stunned Salt Lake squad from the get-go. Utah's 22-point first quarter seemed like an offensive outburst compared to the 16-point second quarter.

"When you break down your offense — and they broke us down — you end up taking desperation shots," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "And when you're desperate, it's hard to make them."

While Utah was desperate, the Lakers were dead-on. They didn't cool off much after their torrid first quarter, ending up shooting a sizzling 62.0 percent for the game.

Even a wild, what-the-heck circus shot by Lamar Odom fell in after he heaved the ball about 20 feet into the air at an awkward angle while running into the first row behind the baseline after being fouled.

"That's fun," said Odom, who had 17 points off the bench. "That's basketball when you're seven years old out there having fun with the game and the ball just goes in."

Most of the Lakers' shots had much lower degrees of difficulty, and it showed.

Bryant went 7-for-11 while scoring a game-high 21 points, Pau Gasol hit 9-of-13 shots for 20 points and Andrew Bynum made 6-of-9 for 19 points.

Williams topped Utah with 17 points and eight assists, while C.J. Miles had 14 points in his first start of the season after replacing Gordon Hayward at the small forward spot.

But that lineup change — the third in as many games after Andrei Kirilenko was replaced by Hayward on Saturday — failed to do the trick on this night.

Nothing for Utah worked.

"(It's) the same thing. We have no chemistry," Williams lamented. "We have no continuity on either end of the floor. It's bad. I'm playing bad. Everybody's playing bad. It starts with me."

And it ends with a handful of losses in a row — something that Utah hasn't experienced since losing six straight in December 2007.

Something the 38-7 Spurs would love to help them match tonight.

e-mail: jody@desnews.com

twitter: DJJazzyJody

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