Kobe's cold night sinks Lakers in loss

Associated Press  |  Last updated March 19, 2012
Utah-jazz-los-angeles
The Utah Jazz went several years between road victories over the Los Angeles Lakers until winning twice in their last three trips. Paul Millsap deflected the praise for Utah's latest stunner onto two surprising rookies, and the Jazz gave the credit right back to the power forward who knows how to beat L.A. Millsap scored 24 points, rookie Enes Kanter added a career-high 17 points and eight rebounds, and the Jazz handed the Lakers just their second home loss since Christmas, 103-99 on Sunday night. Rookie Alec Burks scored 13 of his career-high 17 points in the fourth quarter for the Jazz, who snapped the Lakers' five-game winning streak while winning three straight games of their own for the first time in two months. They even forced an awful performance from NBA scoring leader Kobe Bryant, who missed 17 of his 20 shots. ''It's big for our team, big in our development and big in our growth,'' said Millsap, who punctuated his latest phenomenal performance against the Lakers with a driving three-point play in the final minute. ''We just continue to push forward. I'm so proud of our young guys. They stepped up big for us. They came into a hostile environment and showed what we were capable of doing.'' After beating Golden State in Salt Lake City on Saturday night, the Jazz posted back-to-back wins without leading scorer Al Jefferson, who attended his grandmother's funeral in Mississippi this weekend. Although they've hovered around .500 all season, the Jazz are starting to feel confident about their chances of contending for a playoff berth. ''That's who we are,'' Utah coach Tyrone Corbin said. ''Right from the beginning of the year, we knew we had to play our young guys to get them some experience on the floor, to develop them with our veteran group of guys.'' Bryant had 15 points while spraying shots all over the court, punctuating his horrific night by missing a tying 3-point attempt in the waning seconds. Bryant couldn't even blame his rough night on longtime defensive nemesis Raja Bell, who missed his second straight game with a hip muscle strain. ''You have nights like that every now and then,'' Bryant said. ''I couldn't make a shot. ... You try to just hang in there, get some stops down the stretch and try to muck up the game.'' Andrew Bynum had 33 points and 11 rebounds while making 12 of his 14 shots for Los Angeles, which had won 19 of its last 20 games at Staples Center since losing its season opener to Chicago. Pau Gasol had 18 points and 10 rebounds, but Los Angeles committed 24 turnovers -- albeit none in the fourth quarter -- and never caught up to the Jazz down the stretch. ''We had way too many turnovers, and I don't know if it was overconfidence, or just sloppy,'' Gasol said. ''We gave them too many opportunities, and they took advantage.'' Millsap got his impressive three-point play with 40.7 seconds left after Los Angeles had trimmed Utah's lead to 99-96. After Bryant converted a three-point play, Matt Barnes blocked Millsap's shot to set up Bryant's tying look off a pick -- but he missed his 17th shot of the night, and Millsap grabbed the clinching rebound. ''You never know what Kobe is capable of, but our guys did a great job of defense on him,'' Millsap said. Ramon Sessions had 10 points and six assists in his second game for the Lakers, and Steve Blake went scoreless for the second game as Derek Fisher's replacement in Los Angeles' starting lineup. Derrick Favors had 12 points and 10 rebounds for the Jazz, who improved to 6-16 on the road with their second win at Staples Center in three trips after losing 17 straight against the Lakers. Metta World Peace scored three points for the Lakers in 18 minutes before leaving the court in the second half with left hip bursitis. Sessions gave another strong performance off the bench, immediately injecting speed and playmaking that the Lakers have lacked all season long. Although he went 1 for 7 from the field, Sessions repeatedly drove the lane -- something Fisher hasn't done regularly for years -- and earned 10 free throws. The Lakers got off to a passionless start, committing 10 turnovers in the first quarter. Bryant missed his first six shots before hitting a 3-pointer midway through the second quarter. ''The bottom line is, he's our guy,'' Lakers coach Mike Brown said. ''The shots he took, I'd give it to him again. I don't know how many shots he missed near the rim -- I mean, point-blank shots.'' NOTES: Gasol hit a 3-pointer in the first quarter, improving the 7-footer's season percentage to 4 for 17. ... Jordan Hill was cleared to play for the Lakers after Fisher apparently reached a buyout with the Houston Rockets, who acquired the five-time NBA champion point guard last week. ... Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea sat in the Lakers' radio broadcast. Earlier Sunday, the longtime Lakers season ticket-holder finished the Los Angeles Marathon in 3 hours, 41 minutes.
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