The Lakers returned to Staples Center tonight and got their first victory in five games, beating the Utah Jazz 102-84. Kobe Bryant ended the game with 14 points, 9 rebounds, and 14 assists, one shy of his career high.
The Lakers looked to get to a good start following their fourth straight defeat on Wednesday in Memphis. They started the game on a 7-0 run, with Dwight Howard on the receiving end of lob after lob. Howard played with energy following his comments about being, “sick of hearing about all the negative stuff” at shootaround this morning. He finished the game with 17 points, 13 rebounds, and 2 blocks.
The Lakers led all the way, with Utah getting as close as three points away from the lead with 2:37 left in the 3rd. The Lakers answered with 4 straight assists from Kobe to finish the quarter, 72-63. The bench, led by Pau Gasol, was able to build on that lead in the fourth, hitting 11 straight field goals. Gasol and Howard played well together, with Howard occupying the high post to set up a Gasol layup in one sequence. The Spaniard finished with 15 points on 7-of-8 shooting.
With Bryant taking on the role of facilitator, Nash was aggressive on the offensive end, finishing with 15 points. The fourth starter in double digits was Metta World Peace, who hit 5 of 11 from three point range and finished with 17 points. Perhaps the Lakers lowest point tonight was the 18 turnovers.
The Purple and Gold look to make it two straight Ws Sunday when the Oklahoma City Thunder come to town.