Utah Jazz frigid in low-scoring lopsided loss to Lakers
LOS ANGELES — The Utah Jazz did not have a shot to win their season-opener.
Not only because this one — a 96-71 blowout loss to the Los Angeles Lakers — was at Staples Center, where the team had lost 17 of 18 coming into Tuesday's game.
And not just because their first game was against a motivated L.A. team that wasn't about to begin the 2011-12 season with three consecutive losses.
Nope. It was because, well, the Jazz did not have a shot.
"We didn't make a lot of shots," Jazz starting power forward Derrick Favors said. "They made a lot of shots. It's as simple as that."
As ugly as that, too, for an underwhelming and overwhelmed Utah team.
This was, to say the least, an off night for Utah's not-so-sharp shooters, who struggled through the lowest-scoring opening night in the franchise's 37-year history.
The only bright spot?
The rough opener wasn't the worst shooting night in franchise history. But the Jazz did give that 29.8 percent futility mark a run for its money.
Utah brought a cold front into SoCal from the wintery Wasatch Front, missing 61 field goals and ending at the freezing point by shooting a 32.2 percent.
"It's one game. You can't panic," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. "You can't scrap everything you're doing and start all over. It's one game. We've got learn from it. We're not satisfied with where we are. We're not satisfied with the performance, and we'll continue to work to get better."
Getting better shouldn't be too tough after this one.
Their previous worst loss in Game 1 was a 26-point setback in Dallas (103-77) in 1986.
And neither the Utah nor the New Orleans versions of the Jazz have ever scored this few points in a season-opener. Tuesday's 71 points were the least for a Jazz first game since Game 1 of franchise history, when New Orleans was held to 74 points against New York on Oct. 17, 1974.
"It kinda goes together," Corbin said. "You shoot shots and miss them, you don't score."
Case in point: Al Jefferson.
Big Al, for as hard as he worked in the offseason and as good of shape as he's in, had the worst night of Jazz players. It had to rank as one of the — if not the — worst night in his eight-year career as he missed 14-of-16 shots and finished with only four points. He did have 10 rebounds in his match-up against Pau Gasol.
"I had my shots. It's just the basketball gods weren't on my side tonight," Jefferson said. "After a couple went in and came out, I probably started forcing a little bit, taking too many jumpers."
The not making was worse than the taking, especially considering the Lakers only shot 42.3 percent from the field. Interestingly, L.A. only made one more field goal than Utah (on 19 fewer attempts), but the home team sank 30-of-37 free throws to avoid starting an unthinkable 0-3.
"They're a veteran team," Corbin said. "They have a lot of pride and they have some great players in their locker room. ... They wanted to get the monkey off their back as soon as they can and they played like it tonight."
Kobe Bryant led the Lakers to their first win after losses to Chicago and Sacramento with 26 points, while Gasol added 22 points.
None of the Jazz's starting lineup cracked the double-digit scoring mark, but Paul Millsap topped Utah with 18 points off the bench after deciding an hour before the game to play despite re-aggravating his right quadriceps tendinitis.
"He's a guy that's going to give you what he got every night he stop on the floor," Corbin said. "He's a little banged up, but I respect the fact he came out and competed. That's what we're asking everybody to do — come out and compete the minutes you're on the floor."
Poor shooting sent the Jazz to the locker room trailing 41-31.
Utah followed a cold-shooting first quarter (7-for-23) with an even more frigid second quarter from the field (6-for-23). For the half, Utah shot only 26 percent.
Utah then only hit 7 of 21 shots in the third quarter as L.A. built a lead as big as 29.
The Jazz (0-1) don't have much time to fret over this loss or find their shots. They travel to Denver tonight to face the Nuggets.
NOTES: Corbin is no hurry to assign captains at this point. That situation, he believes, will play itself out as the season progresses. ... The Jazz have games in five of the next seven nights. ... Twelve Utah players saw action in the first half. Backup point guard Jamaal Tinsley was the last Jazzman to enter the game.
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