LOS ANGELES – Chalk up another frustrating loss for the Los Angeles Lakers as they suffered a 96-79 defeat on Tuesday to the Utah Jazz, which marked their sixth consecutive home loss that matches the most since the 1992-93 season.
After quickly falling behind 7-0 to Utah in the first quarter, Los Angeles responded by going on a 25-4 run that included 19 unanswered points which gave them a game-high 15-point lead. The Lakers were led by Chris Kaman, who was in his first start since Dec. 27 against the Jazz , with eight points to go along with seven rebounds in the opening quarter.
Los Angeles’ defense was on point to start the game as they forced Utah to shoot just 35 percent from the field and only score 16 points, which were the lowest allowed in the first quarter since Jan. 3 against the Jazz.
It was a different story in the second quarter for Utah, who used a 16-3 run to grab the lead at 32-30. For the quarter, Utah outscored Los Angeles 38-10 on 50 percent shooting and forced their opponent to shoot just 22 percent. Gordon Hayward scored 9 of his 15 points for the game and his three rebounds were a part of the team’s 20-7 rebound advantage in the quarter.
“The second quarter killed us,” head coach Mike D’Antoni said. “We started off great shooting the ball, then we hit a period where we couldn’t hit shots. and it continued the rest of the game.”
Los Angeles picked it up offensively in the third quarter with a 15-5 run to start the second half to cut the deficit to one point at 53-52. Wesley Johnson led the Lakers with 10 points in the quarter. However, Utah was able to maintain their lead by finishing the quarter on a 8-2 run that gave them a 68-60 advantage heading into the fourth quarter.
It was much of the same in the fourth quarter as Utah increased their lead to much as 17 points with Los Angeles shooting just 35 percent for the quarter. Alec Burks scored 13 of his team-high 25 points in the final quarter.
“It’s frustrating to lose like that especially the way we started,” Kaman said, who had his second straight double-double with 25 points and 14 rebounds. “I thought we were ready to play for the first eight minutes we were pretty solid. It kind of snuck away from us and we just didn’t have any left in the tank.”
Los Angeles also received double digit scoring outputs from Shawne Williams, who scored 11 points in first start in his third game back with the team, and Johnson who chipped in 15.
The Lakers Youth Foundation made a $2500 donation to the Make-A-Wish of Greater Los Angeles as a result of the team making five 3-pointers each valued at $500.
Nash Injured Again
Steve Nash’s injury plagued season continued on Tuesday’s he did not return to the game after halftime as he experienced nerve root irritation in his left leg for the second consecutive contest.
“He wanted to come back in the second when we have so few guys to play,” D’Antoni said. ” He didn’t want to just sit out, but he couldn’t go. We just have to get through this period and get guys back after the All-Star Break. We’ll have three or four guys back, and that will help, but we still have one more game.”
Nash finished with just two points on 1-for-4 shooting to along with two assists and one rebound in 17 minutes played.
The 18-year veteran originally re-aggravated the injury in the third quarter of Sunday’s 92-86 defeat to the Chicago Bulls after bumping knees with Kirk Hinrich. He attempted to play on it, but pulled himself out of the game a few minutes later.
Tuesday’s contest also marked the 10th game played this season for Nash, which rules out the Lakers having the option of medical retirement for the veteran guard and they will also have his $9.3 salary on their payroll next season.
As for the remaining healthy Lakers guards, it will mean Kendall Marshall will once again play a major role as the team’s starting point guard, with he and Steve Blake splitting the duty as the Lakers’ primary ball handlers.
Photo Credit: USA Today