Utah Jazz: Watson, Jazz get just what the doctor ordered — a win over Lakers
Watson fuels Utah's decisive Fourth-quarter surge as Jazz shoot down the Lakers
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — It isn't even Valentine's Day yet, so it's much too early to enter panic mode after a couple of losses.
But the Utah Jazz picked up a quasi-must-win game for this time of the season Saturday.
All the better that it came against the Los Angeles Lakers.
"It's big," Jazz power forward Derrick Favors said of Utah's 96-87 win over Kobe Bryant and crew. "We are getting ready to go to the East Coast — a lot of road games — so we definitely needed this win."
The team that Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said wants to be "special" sure played like it, and especially in crunch time when Utah used a 14-0 fourth-quarter run to frustrate and finish off the Lakers.
Good timing, too, with games in New York and Indiana on Monday and Tuesday and five of the next six on the road.
"It's a big deal for us. It's a momentum swing for us," Jazz power forward Paul Millsap said. "Hopefully, we can use this to get on the road and get some wins. ... We're going to need it."
The Jazz needed and got contributions from just about everybody in this one — from the starters, to the backups, to the 19,642 fired-up fans who weren't sporting yellow at EnergySolutions Arena.
Gutsy backup Earl Watson toughed it out on a sprained ankle that he swears was helped by a mysterious, if not magical, laser treatment to provide some gut-check mojo.
Utah bigs Al Jefferson and Millsap (combined 34 points and 26 rebounds) held strong against the Lakers' powerful pair of Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum (combined 45 points and 28 boards).
And the Jazz reserves — sparked by Watson's gutsy 11-assist, eight-point night — gave a big boost off the bench by outscoring the Lakers' subpar subs 49-12.
Energy and passion that was missing Thursday in the lopsided loss at Golden State — along with absent and injured backcourt players Watson, Devin Harris and Raja Bell — returned with audacity and ferocity when it mattered most against the Lakers.
"The emotion takes over and before you know it the lead starts to build," Watson said. The spunky guard then touched on the theme of the night, adding, "This was a big win for us. Our team played great. The young guys played well, and the starters came back in and closed it up."
Those fresh-faced contributors — particularly 20-year-old Favors (12 points, eight rebounds) and 19-year-old Enes Kanter (10 points, six boards) — were baby beasts on both ends.
They were also on the floor with Watson, C.J. Miles and Josh Howard for almost all of a decisive surge as the Jazz opened the quarter with a 16-1 run — banging bodies on one end, out-executing the Lakers on the other side and getting into L.A.'s heads — to turn a tied game into a timely victory.
"Those guys come in against Pau Gasol and Bynum, and they're throwing their bodies all around," Bell said. "They're beating them up and down the court.. That takes its toll. That wears people down. Then on top of it, you've got to guard them on the defensive end. That's a nice luxury to have."
From a physical and statistical standpoint, the Jazz out-everythinged the Lakers. Utah had more rebounds (50-42), assists (25-12), points in the paint (52-40), fast-break points (12-4), second-chance points (23-17), steals (6-3), blocks (6-4) and, well, you get the point.
"Utah was very physical defensively tonight with us," Lakers coach Mike Brown said. "They kicked our behind on the glass. They were up on us in the halfcourt and you have got to give them credit because they way they were playing is the correct way to play the game of basketball."
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