LOS ANGELES — It was just an exhibition game, but the Jazz showed a lot of heart in a second-half 99-86 comeback win over the Los Angeles Lakers Saturday night at Staples Center.
The Jazz had trailed by 11 points at halftime, but caught up with a strong third quarter and then turned on the gas early in the fourth behind second-year center Enes Kanter and veteran Jamaal Tinsley.
Kanter finished with his third straight double-double this year, getting 14 points and 14 rebounds. The most amazing thing was that he scored 10 points and grabbed eight rebounds in the first six minutes of the fourth quarter when the Jazz made their rally. He could have had more but was taken out as both teams cleared their benches with five minutes left.
“He just continues to grow his game," said Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin. “He’s showing a lot from his hard work in the summer and he’s doing a great job with the rebounds. He’s worked his butt off and works every day in practice and it's starting to show now."
Kanter says there’s no real secret to his consistently strong play so far this year.
“I just try to do my best to help my team," he said in the Jazz locker room. “I just try to do what I can to win the game."
Tinsley, who missed Friday night’s home win over Oklahoma City for “personal reasons,” finished with 11 points and five assists in 18 minutes. Marvin Williams scored 14, while Al Jefferson and Gordon Hayward each added 10 for the Jazz.
For the Lakers, it was their third straight exhibition loss in three games. They got 18 points from Kobe Bryant in 24 minutes, while Metta World Peace scored 13 and Pau Gasol 11.
The Lakers took a 46-35 halftime lead over Utah, but the Jazz stormed back to tie the score at 69 after three quarters.
That’s when Kanter went wild, and his burst gave the Jazz an 81-72 lead before both teams cleared their benches.
First, he scored inside and missed a free throw to put the Jazz up for good. Then he came back with two more free throws before missing another pair. Then he scored on back-to-back possessions on rebounds and follow shots. And after DeMarre Carroll scored for Utah, Kanter came back with two more free throws to give the Jazz a nine-point lead with 6:50 left.
The Lakers had led 25-22 after one quarter and increased the advantage to 46-35 at halftime after Bryant scored 11 of his 17 first-half points in the final 3:05, all from the free throw line.
The Jazz came out of the locker-room on fire in the third quarter as Hayward hit a couple of shots and Marvin Williams scored a couple of inside baskets. Derrick Favors, who finished with eight points, four rebounds and four blocked shots, also sparked the Jazz run.
“At the beginning we were a little sluggish," said Corbin. “But in the third quarter we did a great job of coming out and setting the tempo early and got our hands on a lot of balls. We got more free throws and were more aggressive going to the basket."
The Lakers had lost first two exhibitions game handily, by 27 to Golden State and by 18 to Portland. Bryant had missed the Portland game with a strained shoulder. Meanwhile, the Jazz bounced back from an close loss to Golden State with a convincing win over Oklahoma City Friday night before Saturday's come-from-behind victory.
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