The Utah Jazz hate playing the Lakers at Staples Center, and coming in with a four-game losing streak didn’t make their prospects for a win any better on Tuesday. Behind a balanced attack, the Lakers obliterated the Jazz 120-91, dropping Utah for the 17th straight time in Los Angeles.
The Lakers, coming off an impressive win in Denver on Friday, continued their strong play against the struggling Jazz. They jumped out to a 37-22 lead after one quarter, and never looked back. The lead ballooned to 66-38 at halftime, and by early in the fourth quarter it had grown to 38. The Lakers finished the game shooting a season-high 62.0% from the floor in their league-leading eighth wire-to-wire victory.
Kobe Bryant scored 21 points to go along with six assists, and got a ton of rest in the blowout, playing just over 26 minutes for the night. He needs just 13 points to pass Hakeem Olajuwon for eighth place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list.
Pau Gasol had 20 points and seven rebounds, Andrew Bynum scored 19 points to go along with 11 rebounds and three blocked shots. Lamar Odom had 17 points and eight rebounds off the bench, including a circus shot jumper from the right baseline as he was fouled, for a three-point play. It was that kind of night for the champs.
The Jazz shot just 41.9% (36-86) from the floor for the game, and the final score certainly didn’t reflect how good the Laker defense was. Utah’s shooting percentage greatly improved when the game was out of reach, and both teams cleared the benches for extended “garbage time.”
To go along with their hot shooting, the Lakers had 34 assists on their 44 baskets, with five players notching at least four assists. In fact, everyone on the team had at least one assist, except for Joe Smith who played just four minutes of the fourth quarter.
Deron Williams led the Jazz with 17 points and eight assists, but didn’t get much help from anyone else. He also turned the ball over five times as the Lakers were aggressive against him on the perimeter. C.J. Miles had 14 points, Paul Milsap scored 11, and Al Jefferson was the only other Jazz player in double-figures with 10 points and nine rebounds.
The Lakers have also won 12 of their last 15 overall, including three of four against Western Conference playoff teams. They’re now sitting at 33-13, 5.5 games behind the conference-leading Spurs. They also have the NBA’s third best record behind San Antonio (38-7) and Boston (33-10).
The Lakers’ next game is Friday night against the last place Sacramento Kings, who they have beaten 14 of the last 16 times the teams have faced each other, including two easy wins this season. The Lakers will look to avoid a letdown before Sunday’s huge match up against the Boston Celtics at Staples Center. That game will be the first between two teams since the Lakers 83-79 win in Game 7 of the NBA Finals last June.