With each game, Lakers fans find a new sense of hope, believing this to be the game that the switch finally turns on and the Show realizes just how talented they are. They came back from a huge hole against OKC at their house only to come up short. But, this is Staples. The Lakers sport a winning record, 7-5, at home. Their opponent, the Jazz, the type of scrappy and deep team the Lakers struggle with, is awful at 3-9 on the road. They presented the perfect opportunity to prove the corner is here, and the Lakers are ready to turn it.
Instead, they lost back-to-back games for the 4th time this season, 117-110.
The Lakers desperately needed a quick start, but the Jazz beat them to it, running out to an 8-0 lead. The Lakers fought back after missing their first four looks and took the lead, 27-25, at the end of the quarter. But, heading into the 2nd quarter, the Lakers ubiquitous nemesis, bench scoring, stepped in and gave the Jazz the edge into half time. Enes Kanter dropped in layup after layup for 8 points to begin the quarter. Then, Amare Carroll took over adding another 8 points to stretch the lead to 12 with 2:43 to go. The Jazz dominated points in the paint, 32-18. The Lakers answered with Jordan Hill, whose 13 points on 6-9 shooting led the Lakers at half.
Yes, Jordan Hill led the Lakers in scoring at the half. Kobe put in 10, but Dwight only scratched 4 points and a 3 represented Jamison’s lone contribution for the game.
Shooting 41% from the field at the break, the Lakers missed layups, tip ins, and jumpers, but they hit their 3s. 9 turnovers didn’t help either as the Lakers found new ways to give the Jazz the ball back. Raining 7-14 from deep kept them relatively close, and quickly put them back into the mix as MWP and Kobe started the 3rd right where they left off from behind the arc.
But, threes can only keep you close, and often turn into fool’s gold without making the other shots. Although they finished 15-28 for 54% from beyond, the Lakers couldn’t seem to put the ball into the basket without a 20-plus foot line between them. Every time they almost drew even, a missed shot or errant pass sparked a Jazz break. The Kanter-Carroll show racked up 14 and 10 a piece, with Enes adding 6 boards, 4 on the offensive glass. Kobe ended up with 34, but Dwight could only muster 11 points to go with his 16 boards. Granted, his teammates scorched the nets from distance, but Howard’s lack of 2nd half production and Kobe’s 9-24 shooting only echo the obvious.
This town needs a point guard.
Duhon chipped in 12 points on 4-5 3s and 11 assists, which would be ideal coming off of the bench. The turnovers and the inability to get Dwight the ball on the pick and roll and in a position to rise up and throw down shine the light on the elephant in the room. Steve Nash will make this all better, but he needs to come back first.
Until then, the Lakers will struggle through their four games in six days on the road, starting Tuesday with the 4-17 Cavs, just 1-9 in their last 10 games and 2-6 at home. Normally, the concerns over looking past such an opponent to Thursday at Madison Square Garden would furrow the brows of fans and pundits. But, Pau might not be ready to join the starters, so the Lakers must find a way to beat a lesser team with their current team.
They need this next win. Badly.