LOS ANGELES — With a chance at their fingertips to turn a series, and heads around the NBA, the butterfinger bunch was done in Tuesday night by too many turnovers.
The Jazz committed 20 miscues in all as the Western Conference's No. 1-seeded Los Angeles Lakers took Game 2 119-109 at Staples Center, sending the series back to Utah with coach Jerry Sloan's club flustered by what it let slip away rather than savoring point guard Deron Williams' game-high and career playoff-high 35 points.
"Turnovers broke our back," said Sloan, whose Jazz have now lost 11 straight in L.A. — including two in this best-of-seven series and three last postseason.
"Every time we got within five or six points of them we cut our own throat, by turnovers and tough shots," he added. "That's understandable, to a certain extent — because we've got some young guys. But they've got to learn not to turn the ball over, and understand what we're trying to get out of a certain play."
Down 11 at the start of the fourth quarter, a three-point play by Carlos Boozer (20 points, 10 rebounds) the traditional way followed by a driving layup from the two-time NBA All-Star pulled the Jazz to within three at 109-106 with just more than three minutes to go.
Utah had a chance to make it a one-point game one possession later, but Trevor Ariza nabbed an errant Kyle Korver pass.
The Lakers got a fastbreak layup from Ariza on the other end, and nearly everything the Jazz tried after that went awry — including, in the span of 30 seconds with less than two minutes remaining, a Williams pass deflected by ex-Jazz guard Derek Fisher and Pau Gasol's blocks of both a Williams drive down the lane and a Ronnie Brewer shot to boot.
"That's tough," Brewer said of the 34 points L.A. scored off of Utah's 20 turnovers, "especially on the road and against a good team — a good defensive team."
Tough too, for Utah, was the Lakers' start.
Sloan even foreshadowed it in the morning.
"Every time we've been down here we seem to get in a hole to start with," he said then. "I don't know if we're conserving ourselves, or what."
This time, another liberal Laker welcome was of crater-like proportions.
L.A. led 41-29 after a first quarter in which 18 of their 24 possessions produced points.
It wasn't a perfect period, but darn close.
"They shot lights out," Williams said.
"This is a team that tries to blow you away early."
And often does.
The Lakers opened 15-of-17 from the field, and finished those first 12 minutes 18-for-21 with just three turnovers.
Denver once scored 43 against Utah in the first quarter of a 1985 postseason game.
But that 85.7 shooting percentage is the highest ever in a quarter by a Jazz opponent in the playoffs, eclipsing 82.4 percent that Seattle once shot back in 1993.
By the time Ariza knocked down a 3-pointer with 1:50 to go before the break, the Laker lead stood at 20 — not quite the 22-point advantage they enjoyed at halftime of Sundays' Game 1, but seemingly comfy nonetheless.
Or was it? A late Jazz rally sparked by Williams kept Utah, which trailed by double digits at halftime despite shooting 60 percent in the first 24 minutes, from plummeting further.
Williams ran off a personal 7-0 run in the final 1:31 of the half — a 3-pointer, two free throws and a driving layup — and Boozer added a late short jump hook to pull the Jazz to within 11.
The half ended with Kobe Bryant passing back to no one, and Korver opened the third quarter with a 15-foot jumper followed by a 3-pointer.
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