Williams, Jazz cool off surging Lakers
Deron Williams scored 29 points and Andrei Kirilenko grabbed two key rebounds late as the Utah Jazz rallied from a 19-point first-half deficit for a 102-96 win over a Los Angeles Lakers team that swept them out of the playoffs last season.
Williams tied the score at 96 with 1:16 remaining on a 3-pointer, then stole the ball and passed to Raja Bell for what proved to be the game-winner.
Ron Artest and Paul Gasol both missed shots late for the Lakers (13-3), which saw their five-game winning streak end.
The Jazz won their fourth straight to improve to 12-5.
Kobe Bryant scored 14 straight points for the Lakers in a 2:25 span late in the fourth quarter as the Lakers rallied from an 83-82 deficit to take a 96-91 lead with 2:12 remaining.
But Williams, who Bryant called the best point guard in the league before the game, took over.
He was just 5 of 15 at one point before finishing with a game-high 31 points on 10-of-21 shooting.
Al Jefferson added 20 points and eight rebounds in holding his own against the Lakers’ Pau Gasol (21 points, 11 rebounds).
Utah’s other guards got the Jazz back in the game when it looked like they were finished.
The second quarter belonged to the two shortest players on the court. Utah’s Ronnie Price and Earl Watson, at 6-foot-2 and 6-1, respectively, ignited an 11-0 run to pull the Jazz to 39-22 after Los Angeles had taken a 19-point lead.
Price started the run with a running one-handed slam on a pass from Watson. Watson and Price then hit back-to-back 3-pointers and Paul Millsap followed with a three-point-play off a nice pass underneath from Watson. Watson then took it the length of the court to pull Utah to 39-32 with 6:08 remaining.
Then it was Williams’ turn. He hit a 3-pointer and a fastbreak layup over Lamar Odom to pull Utah to 44-42 with 3:09 left in the first half.
Millsap, on an assist from Williams, gave Utah its first lead, 46-45, on a short jumper with 1:48 left in the first half.
The Lakers took a 50-46 lead into halftime as Gasol and Bryant combined for the next five points.
Los Angeles, after shooting 68.4 percent in the first quarter, made just 4 of 21 in the second quarter (19 percent) as Utah closed the gap.