Sports Out West

Lakers defeat Jazz 108-94 behind bench’s 74-point output

Lori Shepler / Los Angeles Times

In the Los Angeles Lakers’ 108-94 win over the Utah Jazz it was a tale of two halves for both Wesley Johnson and Jordan Farmar.

The pair led the Lakers’ bench that scored a total of 74 points on Thursday night and helped carry the team to victory.

Johnson’s 14 points all came in the first half on 5-of-8 shooting from the field including two 3-pointers that helped spark a 16-3 run for the Lakers at the start of the second quarter after the team shot an abysmal 35 percent in the first quarter.

“It feels good,” Johnson said. “It’s just basically getting back to playing. If I didn’t have a good game its good to be back out there with everybody. I am glad it happened like this so I am definitely moving in the right direction.”

Johnson has been struggling to find consistency this preseason and has been curtailed for most it as he is trying to work his way back from a tendon strain in his left foot that he suffered in the Lakers first preseason game on Oct. 5.

Lakers head coach Mike D’Antoni was impressed by Johnson’s performance and impact to the game.

“I thought Wesley, he and some others turned the game around in the first half,” D’Antoni said. “I thought Wesley was outstanding. Just his ability to explode to the basket, we’ve got to have somebody do that, and he does it. That’ll open up threes, and that’ll open a lot of other people’s games.”

Farmar scored all of his game-high 20 points in the second half with 15 coming in the fourth quarter, helping to maintain a Lakers’ lead late in the game.

Farmar was satisfied with his play on Thursday but is looking toward the bigger picture with the regular season right around the corner.

“It doesn’t mean anything right now toward what we are really here to accomplish” Farmar said. “For me it’s just trying to get positive moment then keep it rolling. Forget about what I am doing on the court. (I am trying) to get the trust of my staff and my teammates and go out there to try and contribute throughout a long regular season.”

The Jazz  began the game on 9-0 run with the Lakers’ first points coming off a jumper by Pau Gasol, who had nine points and six rebounds in 23 mintues, four minutes into the game on the team’s eighth shot attempt.

Despite the Lakers shooting 35 percent in the first quarter, Johnson was one bright spot offensively for Los Angeles, scoring seven points on 3-of-4 shooting. The team also struggled in the first quarter on the glass getting outrebounded by the Jazz 15-7.

 Los Angeles turned it around in the second quarter outscoring Utah 33-19 on 56.5 percent shooting giving them a six point halftime lead.

The only Laker to not be in warms-up beside Kobe Bryant was Chris Kaman, who did not play on Tuesday because he is dealing with gastroenteritis.

Nash sits out second half

After playing 14 minutes in the first half contributing five points on 2-of-3 shooting with one assist, Steve Nash did not return to the court or sidelines for the second half.

Prior to the game it had been reported that the 39-year-old was having issues with his neck and was felt good enough to play but only could play the first half as D’Antoni stated his point guard did not want to push it.

“He had a little neck (issue),” D’Antoni said. “He said he felt pretty good but he would push it if he went on, but he had a good half of work.”

This preseason, the Lakers have been monitoring Nash closely by limiting his minutes on the floor and often times taking him out and taking him to the locker room to receive treatment when he felt something was wrong with him that game.

With that said, his injuries this preseason have been a cause for concern says Gasol.

“I’m a little concerned,” Gasol. “I want him to be healthy enough to play and to do well. “

 Photo Credit: Lori Shepler / Los Angeles Times

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Bob Garcia IV

Bob Garcia is a sports journalist from Southern California. He was a reporter for the award-winning newspaper, The Daily Sundial, at California State University, Northridge. You can follow him on Twitter, @BGarcia90.