Utah Jazz play great for 48
Utah atones for its 4th-quarter collapse Wednesday at L.A.
They got the Los Angeles Lakers light.
Or at least Kobe Bryant sugar-free, his right index finger fractured and his stomach gurgling.
Bryant — limited to 16 points, despite jacking up 24 shots — sustained the shooting-hand avulsion fracture in a win Friday night over Minnesota. The gastroenteritis came the next day, and necessitated IV fluids both before Saturday night's game and again at halftime.
But the Jazz won't let any of that take away from their 102-94 win over L.A. at sold-out Energy Solutions Arena, one that ended the 11-game winning streak of a Lakers club that came in with the NBA's best record before losing and marked 14-9 Utah's 10th victory in its last 13 games.
The win capped quite a telltale week for the Jazz, who went 3-1 with victories over old nemesis San Antonio, 2009 NBA finalist Orlando and a defending league-champion Lakers team that eliminated Utah from each of the past two postseasons.
"You know," said Jazz point guard Deron Williams, who had a game-high 21 points and game-high 11 assists, "it helped a little bit that Kobe was under the weather — but we'll take a win against anyone."
The week's only blemish: a six-point final period Wednesday at L.A. in which the now 18-4 Lakers used a 20-0 run to do in the Jazz.
"We came off a great win over Orlando and we're in a tough stretch that you wouldn't wish upon your worst enemies," said Jazz rookie Wesley Matthews, whose 19 points and six assists were both career-highs. "We came out, and we were able to put it together for 48 minutes. It feels great, putting together everything we worked on."
"We beat some tough teams, contender teams," added swingman Ronnie Brewer, who scored 19 and shot 8-for-13 from the field. "If you take away that fourth quarter against the Lakers, you never know; we could be undefeated (for the week)."
It's with the memory of that miserable fourth quarter still not erased that the Jazz, who got double-figure scoring from all five starters along with Paul Millsap off the bench, came out to play Saturday.
They built a six-point lead by halftime and never let the Lakers get any closer in the second half. Three times in the last quarter, they led by as many as 17.
"We played well through three (quarters Wednesday), but that fourth quarter was embarrassing, the way we played," Williams said. "We're definitely happy with how we played (Saturday). The effort was a lot better, especially in the fourth. The energy was better."
It showed when Williams went end-to-end for a fourth-quarter layup, using a crossover to get past Jordan Farmar and ducking under center Andrew Bynum before getting fouled and hitting the free throw that followed to put Utah up 88-71 with just more than nine minutes to go.
That followed a stretch with eight straight Jazz points from Williams to start the fourth, including another near fullcourt layup past Farmar.
It showed later in the fourth as well when Williams first lost his dribble and, after the ball was recovered, Matthews lost his — only to have Brewer wind up with it and hurl a mad-scramble shot with three seconds left on the 24-second clock.
It went in, putting the Jazz ahead 94-77 with about 51/2 minutes to go and giving them a much-needed cushion as the Lakers whittled Utah's advantage to eight late in the fourth.
"When I threw it, I was like, 'Money,' " Brewer said. "And I started falling back on defense, and we went to the bench, and they were saying it was a flukish, luck shot. I was like, 'Man, right when I shot it I knew it was going in.' "
And the Jazz knew then they were likely well on their to way toward — no matter how ill or hurt Bryant might have been — a much-satisfying victory over the Lakers.
"It was just a great win for us," coach Jerry Sloan said.
"Guys stepped up left and right," forward Carlos Boozer added. "It was fun to see us play the way we did."
NOTES: Williams' double-double was his ninth of the season. ... Boozer took a knee to the thigh shortly before halftime, and returned after the break, finishing with 12 points and eight rebounds. ... Laker Ron Artest recorded both his 10,000th career point and 2,000th career assist Saturday. ... The sellout was Utah's third this season. ... The Jazz are now 2-1 in throwback green uniforms, including 2-0 at home and 1-1 vs. the Lakers.
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