ANAHEIM, Calif. — The way the preseason is going, the Utah Jazz might ask the NBA schedule-maker to squeeze the Los Angeles Lakers into their regular season slate a few more times.
For the second time in four nights, the Jazz took it to the Lakers on Tuesday, beating Kobe Bryant & Co. 114-80 at the Honda Center.
It's just an exhibition game, right?
Of course. But the Jazz — and their fans, no doubt — will take big wins over the Lakers anytime they can get 'em.
"It feels good to get the win no matter what it is," Jazz shooting guard Gordon Hayward said before adding a qualifying statement. "But, it is just preseason. I think we accomplished what we came here to do and that was get better as a team. "
Utah and its fans only hope this preseason trend continues, especially the part where the visitors led the winless Lakers by 41 points in the fourth quarter. Not only that, but this was the third straight win over a Western Conference contender for the Jazz, who began the stretch with a home victory over Oklahoma City.
The Lakers (0-4) played without two members of their vaunted starting five, with Pau Gasol taking the night off and Dwight Howard still on the mend from back surgery.
Utah's opponent looked like anything but the Lakers for part of the night, especially when the lineup included Steve Blake and Jodie Meeks with lesser-knowns like Devin Ebanks, Ronnie Aguilar and Reeves Nelson.
Because of that, Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin somewhat downplayed the blowout nature. He did see enough improvement in his own 3-1 squad to please him about his players' effort and progress, though.
"The opponent, they're not full speed. These aren't their regular guys and their regular rotation," Corbin said. "We want to see where we are in our development. That's more important than anything else, and I thought we showed some good things tonight."
From the end of the first quarter on, the Jazz beat the Lakers in every facet of the game — from outside shooting (9-for-16 from 3-point range), overall execution (53.4 percent shooting) and hustle (outrebounded the Lakers 44-28 to go with 12 steals).
"We just worked together," said Jazz guard Randy Foye, who broke out of a preseason slump by hitting 2 of 3 from deep. "That was the biggest thing tonight. The first unit set it off and we just came in there and capitalized on the lead they built for us."
After starting sluggishly with Jamaal Tinsley filling in for point guard Mo Williams (groin injury), the Jazz turned a one-point lead midway through the first quarter into a 26-15 lead heading into the second.
And that was just the beginning of the one-sided night.
Another big factor for the Jazz was how they got their transition game rolling — much to the pleasure of the coaching staff that has emphasized this type of pick-up-the-pace action for two weeks.
"I thought the second group did a better job than we did in the first quarter," Corbin said. "Randy Foye came in and we advanced the ball a little bit. We got some early baskets there, the tempo of the game picked up a little bit. When it's going good for us that way, we want to make sure we continue to take advantage of it."
And they did that.
The Jazz were remarkably good in spreading the ball around, with seven players reaching double figures in scoring and another four chipping in with eight points apiece. All 14 players who saw action scored.
Gordon Hayward led the team with 13 points, including a breakaway dunk near the end of the third quarter after he and Tinsley forced Bryant into a turnover. Al Jefferson and Burks threw down a dozen, while Marvin Williams, Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter and Foye all scored 10 points apiece.
Perhaps the only downside to this game from a Jazz perspective was the fact that Kanter saw his double-double streak end at three. The second-year big man, one of the biggest individual stories of the preseason, finished with 10 points and six rebounds.
As bad as it was for the Lakers — or as good as it was for the Jazz, depending on your point of view — it would've been even worse had Bryant not gone off in the third quarter. Kobe fired in 23 of his 31 points in the period on 9-for-11 shooting, while the rest of the Lakers missed all seven of their shots and scored just one point (a Blake free throw). New Laker point guard Steve Nash only played 12 minutes, scoring two points with one assist.
"It's preseason. This means nothing," Foye said. "If we do this during the regular season, then it matters."
GAME NOTES: The Jazz continue their three-game SoCal stay tonight against the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center. It will be the first time Mo Williams and Randy Foye face their old team. Williams plans on playing after sitting this one out with a strained right adductor muscle. This will be the Clips' first home game this exhibition after playing two contests in China and one in Las Vegas. Roster hopefuls Trey Gilder and Brian Butch did not play.
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