After a disappointing loss to the reigning Western Conference champions on Friday night, the Lakers were back in action on Sunday against the Utah Jazz. L.A. was hoping to earn a bit of revenge from a loss they suffered at Utah’s hands in Salt Lake City back on Nov. 7th.
Once again Los Angeles was without Pau Gasol or Steve Nash, both of which continue to remain on the sidelines with injuries. With varying reports of their availability and when they will possibly return cluttering the airwaves this weekend, the Lakers had to find a way to get a victory without either of them against Utah on Sunday.
It does seem like Nash is continuing to improve, however, which is a very good sign for the Lakers.
No question that Nash looks better doing simple agility drills even than last week.
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) December 9, 2012
Regardless, let’s get to the action from Sunday night.
One thing the Lakers did well on Friday night was play strong during the first quarter. Despite a strong output from Russell Westbrook in the first 12 minutes, L.A. actually finished the first period with a lead. Against Utah on Sunday, the team was hoping for similar results. They certainly didn’t get the start they were looking for as Utah jumped out to an early 8-0 lead.
Jamison not sharp early. I’m not even sure he’s dull. BK
— Kamenetzky Brothers (@KamBrothers) December 10, 2012
After the slow start the Lakers finally got it going a bit on the offense end thanks to Kobe Bryant and Chris Duhon. Kobe was his usual productive self, but it was Duhon, who has been filling in for Nash and Blake, who made the big impact in the quarter. He scored three points with four rebounds and four assists in the first period, and helped L.A. climb back into the game.
Jordan Hill continues to earn himself playing time, hitting his 3rd shot in as many attempts, plus a board and a dime as LAL goes up 3.
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) December 10, 2012
Jordan Hill also had some productive minutes in the first, and at the end of the first period it was 27-25 in favor of the Lakers.
In the second quarter things fell apart for the Lakers. After overcoming their early struggles to grab the lead in the first, they couldn’t control Utah down in the paint. Enes Kanter did some serious damage in the post with Dwight Howard on the bench, scoring six consecutive points before Mike D’Antoni put World Peace in at the PF position in an attempt to slow him down.
Good that D’Antoni recognizes the energy Jordan Hill brings even if he’s not a stretch 4
— Mark Medina (@MedinaLakersNBA) December 10, 2012
Jordan Hill had a huge first half, once again showing D’Antoni why he deserves to be on the court. He finished the first half with 13 points and five boards, and continues to show that he can be productive in D’Antoni’s system.
Jordan Hill has 8 pts and 4 reb off the bench to help quell the DeMarre Carroll show. Jazz still up by 10 though
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) December 10, 2012
Regardless of Hill’s production, the Lakers couldn’t get anything done on defense. The Jazz managed to run over the Lakers in the first half, and went into the half trailing 60-51.
Los Angeles finally opened the third with the energy and effort that they hadn’t shown in the first half. Jordan Hill started the third in the place of Antawn Jamison, who had just three points and two turnovers in the first half. D’Antoni’s decision paid off as Hill helped bring the Lakers back into the game in the third. Again, it was Duhon who also had a solid contribution for Los Angeles.
All praise to Duhon.
— Drew Garrison (@BallReasons) December 10, 2012
He continued to move the ball well for Los Angeles, leading the team in assists through the first three quarter. The problems for the Lakers were the ones we’ve seen in the past. It was all defensive. They couldn’t slow Utah down, and when they needed to get a stop they simply couldn’t. Midway through the third the Lakers cut it to two but had trouble getting closer. Utah dominated the paint, scoring nearly half their points in the paint.
We just cannot get any stops, at all.
— Gary Collard (@LakerGMC) December 10, 2012
Still, at the end of the third the Lakers were trailing 88-85, and needed to turn up the defense if they were going to get the win over the Jazz.
Despite their hot shooting from outside, the Lakers couldn’t overcome the Jazz. They just didn’t have the defensive capacity to slow down the Jazz. Kanter continued to be a problem for the Laker big men, shooting a perfect percentage and doing plenty of damage in the post. Despite their hot shooting from beyond the arc, they couldn’t slow down the Jazz on the other end enough to make an impact.
14-22 on 3-pointers and the Lakers are still down 8.
— Auntie Dee Dee (@SoCalGal64) December 10, 2012
Things got so bad in the fourth that people on Twitter were clamoring for another coaching change. Realistic or not, the fans in Los Angeles weren’t happy by the double-digit deficit the team was facing in the final period.
I really wish the Lakers had gone with Phil Jackson. At least the book he would have written about this disaster might have been worth it
— Silver Screen & Roll (@LakersBlog_SSR) December 10, 2012
At the end things got out of hand for Los Angeles. Utah pushed their lead to 14 at one point, and the fans at Staples Center even brought out the boos at one point. One fan chanted for Phil Jackson, many more clamored for defense. It was an ugly game for the Lakers, and another unacceptable loss. They made it close at the end, much like they did on Friday night against the Thunder. A few shots late in the game made the final score look more respectable, but ultimately they weren’t enough.
After a bizarre final sequence that consisted of the Lakers not fouling when they should have, the Lakers lost another embarrassing game to the Jazz, 117-110.