By the numbersThe Jazz outrebounded Los Angeles 44-34, but Pau Gasol's six offensive rebounds proved to be the difference ... Utah's loss was its fifth this year and seventh straight in L.A. against the Lakers ... L.A. again shot way more free throws than Utah. The Lakers were 34-42 from the line, while Utah hit 24 of its 28 foul shots.
First-quarter breakdownEverybody was wondering how Kobe Bryant would respond after his sore back kept him from practicing. He quickly answered, hitting a 3 and a jumper to give the Lakers an early 5-0 lead. Bryant scored nine points in the opening quarter as the Lakers took a 29-26 lead. That L.A. advantage would have been much greater if not for the unexpected offensive explosion by Ronnie Brewer, who scored Utah's first six points on dunks and had 10 points to keep the Jazz close. Seven turnovers hurt Utah's cause.
Second-quarter breakdownThings looked to be following the script of the Jazz's first two losses in L.A. as the Lakers jumped to a double-digit lead. But the Jazz got contributions from a bunch of players to stay within seven after one half. Turnovers continued to be a sore spot for Utah, which committed seven more in the second period. An even bigger pain: Pau Gasol. The Spaniard was en fuego, scoring 15 points in the quarter alone, including a putback just before halftime to put L.A. up 61-54.
Third-quarter breakdownKobe Bryant started really looking like himself, upping his game-high total to 23 points with five assists. But the Deron Williams-led Jazz didn't let him blow the game open for the Lakers. Williams, Ronnie Brewer and Matt Harpring had strong quarters for the Jazz, who blew a couple of opportunities to take the lead.
Fourth-quarter breakdownKobe Bryant didn't score until hitting three free throws when the game was all but over, but the Jazz just could not get over the hump. Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom carried the Lakers in the decisive quarter. Gasol had two huge inside buckets late, including a putback (or push-in-the-back?), with 20.5 seconds left.
Up next: Game 6 in SLC Friday
It's do-or-vacation time Friday night at EnergySolutions for the Utah Jazz, who missed a golden opportunity to steal a win in L.A. The Lakers bring a 3-2 series lead back to Utah, where they were very competitive in their two losses last weekend. Utah needs to win the 8:30 p.m. game to force a Game 7 on Monday at the Staples Center.