Lakers struggle again despite return to STAPLES, lose to Jazz on Sunday night despite Kobe's 34 points.
By ASSOCIATED PRESSFS West
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The
Lakers still aren't getting it together under new coach Mike D'Antoni, and the
Utah Jazz exposed them again.
Paul Millsap scored 24 points and Mo Williams added 22 in Utah's third straight victory, 117-110 on Sunday night.
"They did it to themselves," Millsap said of the 9-12 Lakers. "Our defense was pretty good, but they had no ball movement and that made it easier on us just to try to load up, keep them out of the paint and let them fire up some 3s."
Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 34 points, making 12 of 14 free throws, as they fell to 4-7 in their last 11 games since D'Antoni took over from the fired Mike Brown.
"I just don't think we've had a gut-check moment yet. At some point we're going to draw a line in the sand and that's it, you have to fight," D'Antoni said. "It seems like things happen on the court that get us down. Are there possessions we just throw away? Yeah. We have too many guys who will take a possession off."
Al Jefferson and reserves Gordon Hayward and Enes Kanter added 14 points each for the Jazz, who improved to 4-9 on the road in ending a two-game skid away from home.
"The way we've been struggling on the road, it felt good to come in here and get a big win," Jefferson said. "They're the kind of team that tries to pick up the tempo on offense and not run back on the defensive end, so we tried to pick up our speed and make them run a little bit."
The Lakers never led in the second half while losing their second in a row. They trailed by three to start the fourth quarter only to get outscored 20-8 and fall behind by 15. Hayward had seven points and Kanter six in Utah's spurt.
Bryant, who shot 9 of 24 while playing 43 minutes, engineered one last charge. He had seven points in a 17-7 run that got the Lakers to 115-110 with 1:10 to play. But he missed two 3-pointers in the final 33 seconds.
"I'm glad he did because that would have hurt," Jefferson said about Bryant's errant shots.
Jordan Hill added a career-high 17 points and Jodie Meeks 16 off the Lakers' bench.
The Jazz owned a 54-34 edge in the paint and outscored the Lakers 19-4 on fast breaks.
"That's the second game in a row now we've given up too many fast break points," Bryant said. "Our half-court defense is OK, just giving up too many transition points."
Bryant took over in the third with 14 points as the Lakers outscored the Jazz 34-28. He made four straight free throws to leave the Lakers trailing 88-85 going into the fourth.
Dwight Howard's dunk had the Lakers down by one, but the Jazz responded again with another scoring burst to extend their lead. Williams had four of their nine points before Bryant's free throw binge. Howard finished with 11 points and 16 rebounds.
"We're too good of a team to let everything slip away," Howard said, his voice hoarse from a cold. "We're going to get better. It's going to click. We can't let anyone from outside break our bond. We have to stay patient."
Los Angeles closed within one midway through the second quarter. The Jazz responded with a 14-3 run, including 11 in a row, to go up 55-43. DeMarre Carroll scored six points, including a fastbreak reverse layup and a dunk made possible when Hayward found the streaking Carroll on the break.
The Lakers made a little run of their own, led by seven straight points from Hill and a free throw by Bryant to end the half trailing 60-51 despite shooting 36 percent.
The Jazz scored the game's first eight points while the Lakers were missing their first four shots and turning the ball over three times. Bryant got them on the board with a 3-pointer and another basket and it was left to him to score the Lakers' last basket that put them ahead 27-25.
NOTES: The Jazz improved to 2-0 over LA this season. ... Bryant's milestone of scoring his 30,000th point on Wednesday in New Orleans was announced before tipoff. ... Jazz C Al Jefferson started in place of Kanter. ... The Lakers open a four-game trip on Tuesday in Cleveland.