The Los Angeles Lakers continued their pre-season tonight at Staples Center against the Utah Jazz. The Lakers have eliminated the Jazz the past three years in the post-season, but this year’s Utah team looks much different than they have in the past. Gone is undersized forward Carlos Boozer, and in his place is Al Jefferson. This pay prove troublesome for the Lakers, as they were able to capitalize on Utah’s undersized front-court in years past.
The game started out in Utah’s favor, which was surprising considering they were without star guard Deron Williams. That didn’t seem to phase the Jazz however, as they jumped out to an early lead. The Lakers started off ice cold from the field, falling behind 16-9, and shot just 3-16. The struggles continued for Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant as well, as his field goal struggles continued throughout the first half of tonight’s game.
A major improvement for the Lakers so far this season has been the play of reserve guard Shannon Brown. Normally known for his acrobatic moves and his gravity-defying dunks, Brown has improved his jump shot. He hit several during the first quarter to help keep Los Angeles within the game.
Heading into the second quarter the Lakers were looking for their bench to give them a boost. The tough play from the Jazz continued into the second, as they were able to maintain their lead. The new additions to the Los Angeles lineup came in, as Theo Ratliff, Matt Barnes, and Steve Blake were able to get some time on the court. Rookie Devin Ebanks also got some time on the floor.
The Utah lead stayed relatively consistent throughout the second, as Los Angeles was never able to make a run and claim the lead. Heading into halftime the Lakers trailed the Utah Jazz 49-44.
So far this pre-season the only consistent thing for the Lakers was the inability of Kobe Bryant to get anything going. That changed big time in the third quarter of tonight’s game. After being matched up with enemy turned friend turned enemy again, Raja Bell, Bryant reminded us all why he is still one of the best players in the league. In the first seven minutes of the third quarter Bryant put in 14 points.
The Lakers team followed suit, as they were able to take the lead from Utah and extend it throughout the quarter. The Jazz proved resilient, however, as they were certainly not about to lose the coveted Staples Center Shootout title easily! Heading into the fourth the Lakers led by a point, 74-73.
While the Lakers were able to ride the momentum of Kobe’s first offensive explosion of the season to the lead in the third quarter, Utah came right back in the fourth to reclaim it 77-76. Utah put their foot on the pedal afterwards, extending their lead throughout the fourth quarter. Utah’s lead reached a high point at 86-78 with 6:36 left, but Los Angeles failed to give up.
The game got very close at the end, as neither team would give up. While Bryant stayed on the bench in the final minutes, Odom and Gasol led the way down the stretch. In the end though, it was the Jazz coming away with the victory in Los Angeles. Timely shots down the stretch put the Lakers away, as well as rookie Devin Ebanks’ first career technical foul.
The final score of the game was 99-94, with the Utah Jazz defeating the Los Angeles Lakers in the Staples Center Shootout.
Below is the Lakers box score from tonight’s game: