Riding adrenaline and some modern treatment on his sprained ankle, Earl Watson took a close game and broke it open for Utah.
He keyed a clinching 14-0 fourth quarter run to help the Jazz beat the Los Angeles Lakers 96-87 Saturday night.
”You don’t really notice because you are lost in the game. The emotion takes over,”
Al Jefferson scored 18 points and Paul Millsap had 16.
”Man, Earl Watson isn’t even supposed to be playing right now, that’s the crazy thing about it. He’s out there on one leg, having an amazing game for us,” Millsap said.
Watson scored eight points and had six assists in the fourth quarter as the Jazz beat the Lakers for the first time in three tries this season.
After he stole the ball from Pau Gasol at the top of the key and fed Derrick Favors for a dunk, Lakers coach Mike Brown went ballistic and charged after official Zach Zarba.
”Pau was just dribbling and I stole the ball. Pau just fell down but I didn’t push him. Maybe they thought I did,” Watson said.
Brown received two quick technicals and was ejected with 8:34 to play.
”I was trying to give our guys some juice. I got techs. I shouldn’t have got two techs,” Brown said. ”I put our guys in a deeper hole than we were already in and that probably cost the game.”
Watson threw an alley-oop to C.J. Miles that brought the crowd to its feet and then capped the 14-0 run with a 3-pointer with 6:18 to play that gave Utah its biggest lead of the game, 83-68.
”I saw it coming early when I started running because my man was behind the play. Earl just threw it up there,” Miles said of the big dunk. ”I knew it was a big part of the run we were making and that really got the crowd into it.”
Kobe Bryant scored 26 points and Gasol had 24 points and 16 rebounds but the Lakers dropped to 3-8 on the road.
Just about every play went through Bryant after Brown’s ejection. Bryant made two 3-pointers and added three free throws after getting fouled on another attempt in a span of 1:13.
”We just have to be patient, just be calm. We’ve been in this situation before,” Bryant said.
Sandwiched around a driving shot by Watson, Andrew Bynum and Gasol scored inside to cut the Jazz lead to 87-81.
But Watson who sprained his ankle against the Clippers on Wednesday, assisted on baskets by Jefferson and Millsap and then made a 3-pointer for a 94-83 lead with 1:06 remaining.
Watson had flown to Los Angeles for treatment on Thursday and was working with the training staff much of the day.
”I used a laser from a doctor who invented it and it’s the only one in the world. I was lucky. I still feel like I could still play because winning definitely makes it feel better,” Watson said.
Los Angeles lost seven of its first eight games on the road. The Lakers’ 90-87 overtime win at Utah was their only one until claiming road wins at Milwaukee and Friday night in Denver.
Many of the Lakers’ road woes returned against the Jazz. Plays frequently ended with two Lakers yelling and pointing about where the other should have been.
”You have to give them credit, Utah was very physical with us tonight,” Brown said.. ”They kicked our behind on the glass and they were up on us in the halfcourt.”
In addition to the contributions from Bryant and Gasol, Bynum posted 21 points and 12 rebounds but after that was about it. The rest of the Lakers combined for just 16 points. Los Angeles made 5 of 17 field goal attempts in the final quarter.
Neither team led by more than six points until Watson led the big Utah run. The Jazz took advantage of their fifteenth home game, which is tied with Philadelphia for most in the league.
The Jazz also got a boost from Devin Harris, Raja Bell and Watson who were all game-time decisions after the trio missed Utah’s 119-101 loss to Golden State on Thursday.
NOTES: Bryant got a technical foul for arguing a no-call on a dunk in the first quarter. He curtailed several discussions with the officials later in order to avoid an ejection. . After assistant John Kuester took over for Brown, he also got a technical foul a couple minutes later in the fourth quarter. . Millsap and Jefferson each had 13 rebounds as the Jazz beat the Lakers on the boards, 50-42.