17-33 – That was the Utah Jazz’s record coming into tonight’s game; a record similar to the home team’s 18-33. Despite Utah’s terrible record, however, this is the same team who most recently defeated the two-time defending champion Heat. Yes, those Heat.
In their third meeting of the season, the Jazz started the game well enough, getting to a 7-0 start before the Lakers went on a run to end the first quarter with an 11-point lead. It looked like they were in control going into the second, until Utah clobbered them 32-10 going into halftime. The second half was really just a formality, really. Despite the Lakers’ 23-20 third quarter, they folded in the final 12 minutes, getting behind by as much as 20 points…to the Utah Jazz…at home, and eventually lost, 96-79.
One Good Quarter – That’s it. The Lakers played one solid quarter in which they only allowed Utah just 35% shooting from the field while shooting 46% of themselves (including 4-5 from downtown). After being down 0-7 to start the game, they went on a 27-9 run, led by Shawne Williams and Chris Kaman, with eight points apiece. The Lakers had just a single turnover the entire quarter and led by as much as 15 points.
Chris Kaman – For a second game in a row, Kaman led the team. Tonight he went for 25 points on 11-24 from the field (missed a lot of bunnies at the rim, not to mention some mid-range jumpers he usually makes), grabbed a game-leading 14 rebounds, and tied Utah’s Derrick Favors with three blocks.
Shawne Williams and Wesley Johnson – Holding down the front court to start the game were Williams and Johnson, combining for 26 points and 12 rebounds. They were the only two players on the team, other than Kaman, who scored in double figures.
It’s a familiar list of pain points from tonight’s game so let’s keep it brief:
Bench – Outscored by Utah’s reserves 51-21.
Lead Maintenance/Retrieval – They don’t know how to maintain a lead, nor retrieve it after they’ve lost it. Their 27-9 run in the first quarter was erased quickly with a 32-10 second quarter for the Jazz. Maintaining a lead and/or retrieving one requires a sustained active defense and a sustained ball-moving, high percentage opportunity offense…emphasis on the word sustained. The Lakers have had issues with that all season.
Three-point Shooting – The Lakers went 4-5 from downtown in the first quarter, and then 0-11 the rest of the game. Utah hit 6-17 from behind the arc.
Rebounds – 55-40 disparity in rebounds, 19-12 disparity in second chance points. The Lakers allowed the Jazz 15 offensive rebounds.
Steve Nash – Nash played just under 17 minutes in the first half, and never returned for the second; no doubt caused by nerve irritation again, same reason he didn’t finish Sunday’s game against the Bulls.
30 more games in two months – that’s what we have left of this NBA season, and the way it’s been for the Lakers, the end can’t come soon enough. Next up is a contest against the OKC Thunder, which should be a good game, let’s face it, for Kevin Durant and the Thunder.