Kobe Bryant makes his final trip to Salt Lake City, as the Los Angeles Lakers take on the Utah Jazz on their second night of a back-to-back. The Lakers were blown out last night by the Washington Wizards, so they are looking to redeem themselves tonight in Utah.
The Jazz are currently the seventh seed in the Western Conference, but they are only one game ahead of the Dallas Mavericks, who are in ninth place in the West. Every game for the Jazz is a must win from here on out, meanwhile, the Lakers are currently focused on developing their youth and saying goodbye to Kobe.
Early in the game, Julius Randle forced a turnover and Jordan Clarkson finished the layup in transition to give the Lakers the early 2-0 lead. The Jazz retaliated with three triples, as the Lakers cooled off from the field. In a matter of moments, the Lakers trailed the Jazz 2-17 midway through the first quarter. Kobe finally stopped the bleeding with his patented fadeaway jumper over his left shoulder from the baseline, but the Lakers dug themselves into a deep hole. The Lakers could not stop Rodney Hood, who made his fourth three-pointer in the game to give him 14 points in the first quarter. The Jazz were relentless on the defensive end and the Lakers struggled to find scoring opportunities. The Lakers had a miserable first quarter and trailed 16-34 after one.
The Lakers started the second quarter on a 6-0 run, courtesy of a three-pointer from Metta World Peace that followed a Lou Williams three-point play. The Lakers managed to make progress at cutting into their deficit and trailed 27-39 with 8:53 left in the first half. After the timeout, the Jazz restored order in the game and extended their lead back up to 19 points after Joe Ingles banked in a three-pointer from straightaway. Rodney Hood re-entered the game and immediately hit back-to-back threes, giving him 24 points in the first half. After the Lakers briefly cut the Jazz lead to 12 points, the Jazz pushed it back up to 25 in a heartbeat. The first half turned into the Rodney Hood show, who continued drilling three-pointers, making eight in the first half to give him 30 points in the first half. Hood made eight three-pointers in the first half, and the Lakers trailed 37-64 at the half.
The Lakers and the Jazz contrasted each other on the offensive end; the Lakers stood around and watch their teammates isolate for tough shots while the Jazz moved the ball around and got easy shots. Jordan Clarkson was struck in the face by Randle as he was attempting to grab a rebound, but he was able to shake it off after he was taken out of the contest. The Lakers double-teamed Hood every time he caught the ball, but it created open opportunities for the Jazz. Gordon Hayward slashed down the center of the lane and dunked over Roy Hibbert with his left hand, plus the foul, and the Jazz led by 30. In the blink of an eye, the Jazz pushed the lead up to 35 with 5:25 left to play in the third quarter. Kobe shot a double-clutch fadeaway in the post and air-balled it, which lead to a dunk on the other end, and the Jazz led by 40. The Jazz were wiping the floor with the Lakers after three quarters, 58-99.
Even with the Lakers down by 40 points, Kobe Bryant started the fourth quarter to guard Rodney Hood. Kobe’s last stint in Utah was short-lived, as he left the game with 10:30 remaining to a standing ovation and loud cheers from the Jazz fans. The Jazz pushed the lead to 52 points with seven minutes left in regulation, and the Lakers did not look like they wanted anything to do with this game. D’Angelo Russell finally scratched with four minutes to play on a tough turnaround jumper, but the Jazz answered back with yet another easy bucket. This game was over before it even started; the Lakers tied their worst loss in franchise history, losing by 48 points.
Final Score: Lakers 75 Jazz 123