The Los Angeles Lakers came into Salt Lake City on Friday night after a heated contest against the Dallas Mavericks just a day before. With Matt Barnes getting a one-game suspension and emotions running high against the Mavs on Thursday, the Lakers were noticeably tired against the Utah Jazz early in this game at Energy Solutions Arena and were basically dominated by Al Jefferson and company in the first half.
With the Utah Jazz getting out to leads as high as 17 points against the two-time defending champs, the Los Angeles Lakers winning streak looked like it was coming to an end, but in the last few minutes of the second quarter things started to change in the Lakers favor (10-0 run).
Down by six points heading into halftime, the Lakers needed to get out to a quick start in the third quarter in order to hold off a surprisingly good Jazz squad. Even though the Jazz were battling back and forth to start the second half, the Lakers quickly closed the gap and began to take over the game late in the third quarter by tying it up at 62 a piece with a little less than four minutes in the quarter.
Kobe Bryant started to get hot knowing that he had to step it up to get control of this game, but Andrew Bynum also got going scoring his first bucket in the third quarter. The most surprising aspect of this game on Friday night was that the Utah Jazz weren’t thought to be any kind of challenge for the Los Angeles Lakers with their three best players out with injury in Devin Harris (hamstring), Andrei Kirilenko (knee) and Mehmet Okur (back, out for season), but turned out to give them a run for their money.
So despite the Jazz getting out to leads as high as 17 points over the Lakers on Friday night, the defending champs showed their championship once again as they were able to overcome the deficit and ultimately getting the convincing win over Utah, 96-85.
As usual, Kobe Bryant led the Lakers in scoring with 21 points. Four other Lakers finished in double figures with Pau Gasol (16 points, nine rebounds), Derek Fisher (15 points), Lamar Odom (16 points, seven rebounds) and Andrew Bynum (11 points, five rebounds and three blocks) pitching in to get their ninth straight win.
The Utah Jazz got some good production out of C.J. Miles who scored a game-high 24 points. Al Jefferson and Paul Milsap also posed problems for the Lakeshow as they combined for 33 points and 15 boards, but it wasn’t enough to take down the Lakers who continue to play at an extremely high level.
Not only was this win the Lakers ninth in a row and 17th since the All-Star break (17-1), but this inched Kobe Bryant and company even closer to the top seeded San Antonio Spurs who lost their sixth game in a row on Friday in overtime to the Houston Rockets (119-114). With this win over the Jazz, the Lakers are now just a game behind the Spurs in the Western Conference and within striking distance of the number one seed.
Next Lakers Game: Denver Nuggets @ Los Angeles Lakers Sun. April 3, 2011
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