Utah Jazz basketball: Aggressive Jazz team tops the Lakers in 4th road win
LOS ANGELES — DeMarre Carroll had a series of plays Sunday that summed up the Utah Jazz's night at the Staples Center.
On one end, the lively forward caught a fast-break pass, spun toward the hoop and made a ridiculously tough circus shot. Seconds later, the ever-active reserve tapped a pass out of bounds, knocking a beer out of a courtside fan's hand in the process.
The adult beverage wasn't the only thing from Los Angeles that was knocked out of place.
Thanks to a terrific team effort and another offensive outburst — when hustle and shots like Carroll's seemed to be the norm for the visitors — the Jazz dropped the Lakers 117-110 for their best road win of the season.
"That's very fun," Carroll said.
The Jazz were having so much fun — a word repeated in the locker room — you would've thought they were playing the Toronto Raptors again. Only people have actually heard of the stars on this Lakers team.
Two nights after exploding for 131 points and hitting 13 3-pointers in the rout of the Raptors, the Jazz treated a stunned Staples crowd to a Showtime-like performance. Utah's explosive night included 54.2 percent shooting, interior domination to the tune of a 54-34 points-in-the-paint edge, a 19-4 transition superiority and a reel of highlight plays.
"If we play inside-out, that's what happens," Jazz forward Paul Millsap said.
"It's fun when you're winning," Jazz center Al Jefferson added, "especially when you're winning the right way, getting the stops, rebounding, coming in and beating a team like the Lakers on their home floor."
The home crowd, which included usual celebrities like Jack Nicholson, Maria Shriver and Mario Lopez, was about as thrilled as the front-row fan that lost an expensive beer while witnessing the Lakers stumble to an unfathomable 9-12 record.
For the Jazz, this was their fourth consecutive victory over the Lakers, their third win a row overall and improved their improving-but-rough road record to 4-9.
The most fun part was that almost everybody who played was involved.
Taking advantage of an injured and absent Pau Gasol, Paul Millsap scored 24 points and grabbed nine rebounds, and helped Utah get off to a quick 8-0 start. Mo Williams, facing Chris Duhon instead of the injured Steve Nash or Steve Blake, had a spark-plug night with 22 points and nine assists. Big Al added a double-double of 14 points and 11 boards against Dwight Howard (11 points, 16 rebounds), playing again after missing a game with back spasms.
Then there was the cavalry crew. Enes Kanter, a game after tearing it up in his only NBA start, was a beast with 14 points and six rebounds. Gordon Hayward contributed 14 points in his latest strong effort against the Lakers, who are in a world of hurt in multiple ways.
Jamaal Tinsley directed traffic nicely, and Carroll scored 10 points and provided the Jazz with an unquantifiable amount of spirit before fouling out in the fourth quarter.
Kobe Bryant got his points, scoring a game-high 34 to lead a group of five Lakers in double digits. But thanks to combined efforts, the Jazz owned this night, getting six double-figure performances and gutsy play from 10 guys who stepped on the court.
"The entire bench, man. The guys come in, and this group of guys they don't complain about their minutes," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. "They come out and they want to show that they deserve more minutes by their play on the floor."
The Jazz bench outscored the Lakers' second-unit 43-38, nullifying Jordan Hill's career-best 17 points and helping Utah build a 15-point lead before L.A. rallied.
"The second unit, me and Gordon when we come in, that's what we have to do. We have to bring energy," Carroll said. "We're young and we're out there with a lot of energy guys. We made Paul and Al and them start playing even harder. That's my main objective, to just be the junkyard dog and bring a lot of energy."
As for his wild tone-setting sequence, which was reminiscent of Jeremy Evans' preseason highlight, Carroll smiled and acted as if it was nothing out of the ordinary for him — mostly because it isn't.
"It was just a play in the game I felt like my team needed," Carroll said. "I came down and fortunately made the layup and I just ran down. I wasn't going to let Kobe shoot. Like I told him … 'I'm going to foul out before you come back and kill us. That was my message to him.'"
Turns out, the Lakers went on a big run after Carroll fouled out. L.A. trimmed the Jazz's double-digit lead down to five and had the ball with about 35 seconds remaining.
Bryant, who shot 9-for-24 but had four 3-pointers, threw up a long bomb that just rattled out. Mo Williams then clinched it for the Jazz by making two free throws with 15.4 seconds left.
"Yeah, I'm glad he missed," Jefferson said of the shot that could've made it a two-point game. "That would've hurt bad."
NOTES: Power forward Derrick Favors was a late scratch after his plantar fasciitis acted up again in pregame warm-ups. He has now missed five games. "It just got sore again, so I just decided to sit out," he said. "It's not that bad. I just felt a little uncomfortable when I was out there. It kind of hurt a little bit, so I decided to shut it down." … The Jazz have two days off before hosting the San Antonio Spurs in a late ESPN game (8:30 p.m. tipoff) on Wednesday night. … Mo Williams had hit 13 free throws in a row before missing a freebie in the third quarter. His last miss came on Nov. 14. Williams is shooting 96.9 percent on the season. … Jamaal Tinsley carried the backup point guard duties for the second game in a row.
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