The Utah Jazz shut down Bryant in the fourth quarter, holding
him to four points in a 115-107 win Tuesday night and extending the
Lakers' losing streak to six straight.
"We made somebody else beat us," said Utah's Matt Harpring,
who had 23 points and five assists. "Once Kobe drove, we were
coming off to give help. He was the main focus. We tried to get him
to give up the ball."
The strategy worked almost perfectly. Utah came back from a
seven-point deficit and outscored the Lakers 33-19 in the final
Mehmet Okur had 27 points and 16 rebounds for the Utah Jazz, who
stopped a season-long nine-game losing streak and won the season
series against the Lakers for the first time since 1999, taking
three of four games.
"There's no personal vendetta against them. It's just that we
won. That's the biggest thing," Harpring said. "If we played like
we did tonight this whole season, we'd be in the playoffs right
The Lakers are in their longest losing streak in 11 years and
it's happening at the worst possible time. Combined with Denver's
127-98 win over Washington on Tuesday, the Lakers fell 4½ games
behind the Nuggets for the final playoff berth in the Western
Los Angeles has 15 games remaining to try to make up the ground.
"You can't give up 100 points every night and expect to make
the playoffs," Lakers coach Frank Hamblen said.
Utah hadn't won since beating Atlanta on March 2 and hadn't
scored 100 points since losing to Boston 109-102 Feb. 25. And the
Jazz did it without leading scorer Carlos Boozer, who's on the
injured list, and shooting guard Raja Bell -- who sat out the game
with a bruised left leg.
The Jazz are in the midst of their first losing season since
1982-83, but salvaged a little bit Tuesday night with a win that
puts another dent in the Lakers' playoff push. It also tied Utah
coach Jerry Sloan with Red Auerbach's 938 coaching wins, sixth on
the all-time NBA list.
"We had a lot of guys who played very well and that made a big
difference in giving us a chance to win a ballgame," Sloan said.
"It was a nice effort tonight -- for everybody. I thought we played
Gordan Giricek, making his first start since Feb. 1, scored a
season-high 22 points for the Jazz. Andrei Kirilenko had 18 points,
five blocks and five assists coming off the bench as Sloan shook up
the starting lineup to try to break the skid.
"Winning tonight is good. It's been too long a wait,"
Utah's defense in the final quarter was the difference. After
making 9 of 11 3-pointers in the first three quarters, Bryant
finally cooled off. And Utah's pressure didn't hurt and once the
long shots stopped falling for Bryant, the Laker offense struggled
as bad as the defense.
"The frustrating part is our defense. We're doing a terrible
job of team defense," Bryant said. "We gave up layups in the
fourth quarter -- at a critical juncture of the game -- instead of
making them work for it."
Utah appeared on the verge of its 10th straight loss when Brian
Grant made 1 of 2 free throws to put Los Angeles up 91-84 with
10:36 remaining. But Okur and Harpring each converted three-point
plays during a 10-3 Utah run that got the Jazz back into it.
The game was tied at 100 when Keith McLeod, who had nine points
and six assists, hit a jumper from the corner as the shot clock was
about to expire to put Utah ahead to stay.
Harpring converted another three-point play and made a layup off
two quick passes from Giricek and Okur with about 1:30 remaining
during an 11-3 run for the Jazz.
Utah was 10-for-11 from the free throw line in the final quarter
and Okur capped it all with a 3-pointer to put Utah up 115-105.
Notes:@ Utah hasn't lost 10 straight since 1981-82 during an
18-game slide. ... Lakers were 9-for-13 from 3-point range in the
first half. ... Utah had won just one game each of the previous
three seasons against the Lakers. ... F Lamar Odom, LA's
second-leading scorer, did not travel with the Lakers because of a
small tear and a rotator cuff contusion in his left shoulder.