Utah Jazz offer exciting preview of great future with weekend wins over Lakers, Golden State
Team takes advantage of Kobe's poor shooting
LOS ANGELES — Know that exciting future everybody keeps saying the Utah Jazz will have?
Consider this past weekend a very exciting sneak peek.
As if Derrick Favors' career night against Golden State wasn't enough of a preview Saturday in Utah, the Junior Jazz made their Hollywood premiere in a stunning and sensational 103-99 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers.
"This group of guys never ceases to amaze you with the effort and the focus they come out with," an elated Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. "They just continue to impress with what they can do together if they stay focused and stay together as a group. This is a huge win for us."
Tinsel Town, meet Enes Kanter, Alec Burks and Derrick Favors.
Oh, and playoff race, welcome Utah back in.
Paul Millsap led the Jazz's road show with 24 points and nine rebounds, helping the team improve to 23-22 — the first time it's been above .500 in a month.
Old Man Millsap's play was clutch, but what was arguably Utah's best win of the season — and by far its greatest accomplishment outside of the Beehive State this year — wouldn't have been possible without the guys who look like they should be playing in March Madness games.
"The experiences they had earlier in the year are paying off for us now," Corbin said of the youngsters. "They're getting in the flow and it's different guys at different times, but they're all rallying around each other and supporting each other and they're making good plays for us."
Favors, starting again while Al Jefferson spent time with his family for his grandmother's funeral, followed his 23-point, 17-rebound overtime outing against the Warriors with another double-double.
But even Favors' 12 points and 10 rebounds were overshadowed by the career-nights put up by Kanter and Burks off the bench. Each rookie scored 17 points.
Burks put on a dazzling offensive display in the fourth, including a come-out-of-nowhere tip late in the game and several aggressive and impressive drives.
Helping fill the void left by Big Al, Big Turkey — or "The Up-and-Undertaker," as Miles called the wrestling fan — played tough defense and pulled down eight rebounds along with his unexpected offensive outburst.
"Our rookies won the game for us," Miles said.
This outcome couldn't have made sense to the home crowd.
Not only did Laker All-Star center Andrew Bynum go off for 33 points and 11 rebounds, but the Jazz were without their leading scorer, Jefferson, and two veteran regulars, Raja Bell and Earl Watson.
On top of that, the Jazz had one of the worst road records in the NBA (now 6-16) while L.A. sported a league-best mark of 19-2 at home.
If you're wondering, no, the Staples Center crew did not throw out the red carpet for this group of out-of-town no-namers who lowered the Lakers' home record to 19-3.
In fact, the 18,997 Laker fans in attendance were so quiet and uneasy Sunday night, you would've thought Pauley Shore was doing a comedy act.
One thing was certain: Kobe Bryant wasn't putting on a shooting clinic. The superstar looked like somebody covered the holes on his masked face while missing 17 of his 20 field goals.
Birthday boy C.J. Miles didn't shoot much better — 2-for-11, seven points in his start — but his teammates will forgive him considering the stellar defense he played on Bryant.
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