Utah Jazz: Team falls apart late at L.A.

Published: Thursday, Dec. 10 2009 12:05 a.m. MST

Los Angeles Lakers guard Shannon Brown dunks on an alley-oop against the Utah Jazz in the first half.

Mark J. Terrill, Associated Press

LOS ANGELES — If fractions were the name of the game, the Jazz might have had a chance.

For three quarters, after all, Utah really was able to hang with Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers.

But the defending NBA-champion Lakers used a 20-0 run in the fourth quarter to pull away for a 101-77 victory Wednesday night at the Staples Center.

It was the 10th straight victory for the league-leading Lakers, who have eliminated Utah from the playoffs the past two postseasons, and the second loss in three outings for the 12-9 Jazz.

Bryant had a game-high 27 points for the 17-3 Lakers, including four during the decisive run.

Deron Williams, meanwhile, had a team-high 17 points for the Jazz.

But Utah scoring leader Carlos Boozer managed just 11 with 5-for-16 field shooting in 36 minutes, and both he and rookie Wesley Matthews missed all three of their last-quarter shots.

"They scored in the fourth quarter, we didn't," Boozer of a final period the Lakers took 28-6.

"We were right there. I feel like we could have won the game," added Boozer, whose string of consecutive games with 20-plus points ended at eight. "But in that fourth quarter it just seemed like the lead kept building up. They were scoring or shooting free throws, and we were missing shots."

It was classic Lakers, Williams suggested.

"They have one big run where they go unconscious," he said, "and they did that again tonight."

The Jazz were down just one at 74-73 early in the fourth.

But by the time Ron Artest fed Jordan Farmer for a layup — finishing a fastbreak ignited by Jazz swingman C.J. Miles' bad pass out of a double-team at halfcourt — the Lakers were up 94-73 with just under five minutes to go.

And the Jazz were the ones knocked out.

"That's probably one of the worst fourth quarters we've ever been a part of," said Miles, who scored 14.

"We let them take us out of our game. They got into us defensively, and started trying to force turnovers, which led to easy baskets, and everybody knows that when they get going in this building (Staples) it's hard to stop them."

It is, so — with Orlando in town tonight on the second half a back-to-back for the Jazz — coach Jerry Sloan emptied his bench early.

"In that fourth quarter they came out and just destroyed us," said Sloan, who felt his club reverted to excessive outside shooting in the fourth.

"We were hanging in the ballgame," he added, "but that shows you what a great team they have to be able to get up and make us turn the ball over as much as they did."

The Jazz committed nine of their 17 turnovers in the fourth quarter alone.

"They turned it up defensively," Sloan said. "That's what great teams do. They have the ability to go out there and just stop you.

"You know what type of team they have," he added. "They have a terrific team loaded with talent, and you expect them to get the ball to Kobe Bryant and see what he does."

Bryant scored 13 of his 27 in the third quarter, when the Lakers outscored the Jazz 25-19 to go from four down to two up at 73-71.

It was an assist from Bryant, though, that sent L.A. into the fourth with a lead.

The 11-time NBA All-Star drove, then kicked a pass out to Farmar for a 3-pointer with 3.4 seconds left in the third.

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