LOS ANGELES — Sunday, the Jazz lived up to the familiar saying of the PA announcer at home games: "How 'bout those Jazz?" Utah defeated Los Angeles 103-99 despite playing without star big man Al Jefferson. Paul Millsap scored 20 points to lead the Jazz as Utah achieved a winning record for the first time since Jan. 6 — their ninth game of the season.
Guards: Though C.J. Miles shot just 2-11 from the field, superstar Kobe Bryant did worse, shooting just 3-20 in perhaps his worst overall game against the Jazz in his career. This time, Bryant did not join the long list of guards to have shredded the Utah backcourt. Devin Harris gave Utah just what it needed (and more), scoring 12 points, dishing nine assists and making three steals. Harris has now scored in double figures in five of his last six games. His effort was needed in an off night from Jamaal Tinsley, who played 14 minutes as Earl Watson remained on the bench. GRADE: B+
Forwards: Paul Millsap and Josh Howard combined for 36 points on 16-31 shooting with 15 rebounds, while Millsap had five steals just three days after getting eight — the most steals by a Jazz forward in four years — against Minnesota. Combined with keeping Metta World Peace quiet (Pau Gasol managed 18 points and 10 rebounds), the Utah front line did far more than hold their own in front of the movie stars filling the courtside seats. GRADE: A-
Centers: One day after arguably having the game of his career, Derrick Favors was again solid, scoring 12 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. He had some foul trouble and commited three turnovers. His double-figure scoring game means the 20-year-old has averaged 13.3 points, along with 11.5 rebounds, in his last four games. Enes Kanter played one of his best games of the season in longer-than-normal playing time (23 minutes, compared with his average of 13.8), scoring 17 points and grabbing eight rebounds. However, Andrew Bynum's 33 points and 11 rebounds hurt. GRADE: B
Bench: The Jazz bench out-scored the Laker reserves 36-30 behind 17 points apiece from Utah's two rookies, Kanter and Alec Burks. Burks has now scored in double figures in three of his past four games. Gordon Hayward and Jeremy Evans were hardly factors. Matt Barnes was the only Los Angeles reserve who gave Utah problems, scoring 12 points, grabbing eight rebounds and dishing six assists. GRADE: B+
Overall: This game should have huge ramifications in the Utah locker room. It is no small matter that the Jazz swept a weekend in which they played back-to-back games without Al Jefferson. In order to steal the contest, Utah needed at least one of Los Angeles' big three — Bryant, Gasol and Bynum — to play horribly, and that's exactly what happened. Perhaps the team and fans alike are just surprised by which one of that trio had the off-night. Major kudos to Utah for forcing 24 turnovers. GRADE: B+
Rhett Wilkinson is a journalism and speech communications major at Utah State University. He has previously been an intern for the Deseret News. He can be reached at [email protected] or at Twitter: wilklogan