Coach Mike Brown has insisted he wouldn’t be even slightly concerned if the revamped Los Angeles Lakers went winless in the preseason. After another blowout loss to Utah, nobody seemed worried the Lakers are halfway there.
Gordon Hayward scored 13 points, Al Jefferson added 12 and the Jazz easily overcame Kobe Bryant’s 23-point third quarter for a 114-80 victory over the 0-4 Lakers in a preseason game Tuesday night.
Bryant finished with 31 points and Jodie Meeks added 12 points on four 3-pointers in the fourth quarter for the Lakers, who rested Pau Gasol and kept Dwight Howard out of their lineup again. Steve Nash had two points and four turnovers while playing only 12 minutes for Los Angeles.
Even for a preseason game, it was ugly. Just don’t expect to find anybody who’s concerned in Los Angeles’ locker room.
”We didn’t execute as well as we should as a whole,” said Bryant, who hit 9 of 11 shots in the third quarter. ”Hopefully we can get Dwight out there at some point and play together. The more we do that, the better we’re going to be down the road. But in practice, we play quite a bit together. That’s the most important thing for us, just to get out and play together.”
The Jazz showed all the teamwork Los Angeles still lacks in their second big win over the Lakers in four days. Utah led by 20 points at halftime while holding the Lakers to 10-for-34 shooting, going ahead 35 in the third quarter and by 41 in the fourth while easily slicing through the Lakers’ makeshift lineups.
”It’s important to get out there and learn these things,” Nash said. ”Every day, a lesson is important. … It’s not a great performance by any stretch, but sometimes you learn more from the struggle. I think we’ll come in tomorrow with more resolve to improve. We know we’ve got a lot of room to get better.”
Alec Burks scored 12 points for the Jazz (3-1), who have been staying in Marina Del Rey for an extended trip including a game against the Clippers at Staples Center on Wednesday night.
Although Bryant and Brown both live nearby in Orange County, the Lakers showed up rather late to Honda Center, arriving less than 90 minutes before tipoff after their team bus got caught in traffic.
Brown said he elected to rest Gasol after deciding the four-time All-Star big man looked ”a little fatigued” in recent days. The coach rested Bryant for an exhibition last week, making both moves against the veteran stars’ good-natured objections.
Gasol has played extensively in the preseason in the absence of Howard, who still hasn’t debuted for the Lakers midway through the preseason despite participating in every practice. Although the former Orlando center feels no pain in his surgically repaired back, Howard insists he won’t return until he’s completely healthy, but won’t speculate on when it might happen.
The Lakers say they’ve got plenty of time to build team chemistry around Howard, who appears comfortable in his new team’s new offense during practice. Los Angeles finishes its preseason slate with four games in seven days starting Friday night in Las Vegas.
”I like what we’re doing,” said Antawn Jamison, who scored seven points while starting in Gasol’s spot. ”This is a veteran team. We know when to turn the light switch on. Once we get everybody healthy, I think the chemistry is going to be there. We know what we need to improve on. It’s going to work for us.”
Howard went to midcourt at halftime to shake hands with referee Greg Willard, who worked the game while battling pancreatic cancer. Willard, who attended nearby Long Beach State, is in his 25th season as an NBA official.