Lakers Can't Find Rhythm in Utah
While nobody on the Lakers could find much of a groove against Utah, two key members also had to leave the game due to injuries.
Los Angeles fell, 109-82, on Saturday, while neither Kobe Bryant (sore right Achilles) nor Larry Nance Jr. (sore knee) was able to play in the second half.
However, Bryant said that he will “give it my best shot” to play the very next day against Houston in L.A.
“Body feels good,” he said. “Achilles is tight. (I) just jammed it up good. On the turnaround shot, I jammed it up pretty good (and) couldn’t shake it loose.”
On the other hand, Nance will likely undergo testing on Sunday to see if he will be available against the Rockets.
“Obviously right now he’s probably doubtful for tomorrow night’s game,” head coach Byron Scott said. “Hopefully we can get some results and we can go from there.”
Meanwhile, the Lakers couldn’t muster much offensive progress no matter who was on the floor, as they shot just 31-of-90 from the field, while the Jazz hit 10 more shots on seven fewer attempts.
L.A. (9-33) was cold from the start, knocking down just 28.6 of its first-quarter shots. All the while, Utah (18-22) used a 26-6 run to turn a 7-4 deficit into a 17-point lead that it never surrendered.
“I thought we just didn’t come ready to play,” Scott said. “I though that (Utah) … in the hunt for that eighth spot, they just came out like a desperate team. I thought we came out just like we’ve won 10 in a row. It was just more laid-back.”
The Jazz’s lead expanded to as many as 36 points behind a monster two-way effort from Rudy Gobert.
The 7-foot-2 Frenchman had a double-double by halftime in racking up 18 points and 18 rebounds — both of which were season-highs. Gobert also added five blocks, while the Lakers had only four combined.
Finishing in Purple and Gold
Citing a desire for his final game to be with the Lakers, Bryant withdrew his name from consideration for the 2016 United States Olympic Basketball Team.
“As beautiful as it would be to play for our country, when I say my last game is going to be my last game, I’m going to retire then that’s it,” Bryant said before the game. “It’s not like I’m going to walk off the stage and then (say), ‘But I’m going to come right back for a minute. Hold on one second.’
“I think it’s pretty sweet to have the final game be in a Laker uniform and support the (Team USA) players from afar.”
Though he won’t be suiting up in Rio de Janeiro in August, Bryant will leave the game with two gold medals from both of the past Olympics in Beijing and London.
His final contest will be against the Jazz at Staples Center on April 13.
Lou Williams led all players with 20 points, though he shot just 5-of-16 from the field. … Six Jazzmen scored in double figures. … A sold-out crowd of 19,911 filled Vivint Smart Home Arena.
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