Utah Jazz: Jazz roll past injury-ravaged Lakers, end Staples Center losing streak
Danny Moloshok, AP
LOS ANGELES — They call this place the "City of Angels."
But don't tell that to the Utah Jazz because, over the last 14 months, they've had an absolute devil of a time winning here.
Until Tuesday night, that is.
That's when the Jazz exorcised their demons and finally put an end to their Staples Center misery, a losing streak that had stretched back six games, including four losses to the Clippers and two more to the Lakers.
This time, Utah roared back from a 15-point, first-quarter deficit with strong performances from several members of its lineup who took turns contributing to the comeback in an eventual 96-79 victory that gave the Jazz (18-33) just their seventh road win of the season.
"Just the resilience of the guys," Utah coach Tyrone Corbin of what impressed him most about his team's last two victories. "When we make a mistake and don't play our best in stretches, we tend to get back on board pretty quickly."
The Jazz not only snapped their own Staples Center skid, improving to 7-23 all-time in this arena against the Lakers, but at the same time they also dealt short-handed L.A. (18-44), which had six injured players on the inactive list, its sixth straight Staples Center defeat — matching the worst home-court slide in franchise history.
Alec Burks, Utah's super-sub, came off the bench and scored a team-leading 24 points in another superb, sparkplug performance that has become 6-foot-6 guard's trademark. He scored 13 of those points in the fourth quarter to help the Jazz pull away.
"Offensively, he's in that position where we need to be ready to attack, and he's one guy that can put a lot of pressure on their defense," Corbin said of Burks' invaluable reserve role. "... And now that he's got a better understanding of what we're looking for from him, he's relishing that role."
"Everybody played great," Burks said. "Everybody was aggressive and fought hard. It was a great effort by the bench and the starters."
Utah shooting guard Gordon Hayward had 15 with eight rebounds, seven assists and a couple of steals.
"He's doing whatever he can to help us continue to grow," Corbin said of Hayward's solid all-around performance.
Jeremy Evans contributed 14 points, five rebounds and a couple of blocks off the bench, while Derrick Favors chipped in with 11 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks of his own.
"We went out and played a good game," Favors said. "We played as a team, executing the offense well, played defense well and got the win."
Enes Kanter scored all six of his points during Utah's game-changing, second-quarter run, and he pulled down a team-high 11 rebounds as Utah's bench accounted for totals of 51 points and 25 rebounds.
"They have a lot of individual talent," Lakers' coach Mike D'Antoni said of the Jazz. "They started off really slow but they have been playing better and they've been shooting the ball better since they've gone to a smaller lineup with (Marvin) Williams at the four (power forward)."
Chris Kaman scored a game-high 25 points points and pulled down 14 rebounds, while Wesley Johnson added 15 points and Shawne Williams scored 11 more for the Lakers.
But point guard Kendall Marshall, who torched the Jazz for 20 points and 15 assists the last time these two teams played here in early January, scored just 7 points on woeful 3-of-13 shooting. He had 7 assists, but also committed 4 turnovers.
And veteran point guard Steve Nash reaggravated the nerve irritation issue that has sidelined him for most of the season, sitting out the second half. And Los Angeles shot just 38.8 percent as a team, including a dreadful 22.2 percent (4 of 18) in the second period when the Jazz turned the tide in their favor.
"The second quarter killed us," D'Antoni said. "... We started off great shooting the ball, then we hit a period where we couldn't hit shots and it continued the rest of the game, more or less.
"It's like you're trying to get over the hill and you can't get over it, and your shoulders drop a little bit. And (the Jazz) got tired of letting us get in the game and they got frustrated and we lost it at the end.
"It was a tough night," he said. "We couldn't shoot the ball."
Or as one disgruntled Laker fan sitting courtside yelled in the second quarter, "This is embarrassing — again!"
Marvin Williams scored five quick points to help stake the Jazz to an early 7-0 lead and Utah still led with 8:07 left in the opening period when this no-name group of Lakers suddenly started playing like the talent-laden Lakers of old.
With Kaman doing most of the damage, the Lakers rattled off 19 unanswered points to turn their early deficit into a 14-point lead, 25-11, and extended it to 27-12 with 2:10 left in the first quarter.
But after trimming the Lakers' lead to 27-16 at the first stop, the second quarter was all Utah as the Jazz completed an impressive 22-point first-half turnaround, going from 11 points down to 11 points ahead by halftime.
Kanter hit a couple of jumpers to start the second quarter and joined forces with Evans and Burks as the Jazz opened the period with a 16-3 run, as Hayward's driving layup put Utah up 32-30 with 4:20 to go until halftime.
While the Lakers' offense sputtered, scoring a season-low 10 points in the second period, Hayward and Favors fueled another 16-7 run to finish the quarter, vaulting the Jazz to an 11-point halftime lead, 48-37.
"We were missing shots," Hayward said of Utah's shaky opening quarter. "We started out well, then for whatever reason, we couldn't throw it in the ocean. They were hitting the outside shot; they were hitting everything.
"Then I think we stepped it up defensively. We got some more shots, some easy buckets, we made a little bit of a run at the end of the first (quarter), then the second we played pretty well and got ourselves going.
"It was good for us to fight back like that," Hayward said.
L.A. opened the third quarter with a 15-5 spurt of its own, slashing Utah's lead to just one point at 53-52 at the 6:07 mark, and it looked like the Jazz might squander that impressive second-quarter showing.
But Utah regained its composure, outscoring the Lakers 15-8 over the remainder of the third period to take a 68-60 lead into the fourth.
With Burks slashing to the basket, hitting jumpers and making his free throws — he was 4 of 5 from both the field and the foul line in the final period — the Jazz pulled away, building as much as a 20-point lead, 96-76, on a Burks 3 as the Lakers sputtered badly down the stretch.
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