The (18-3) Los Angeles Lakers, currently on an 11-game winning streak embark on a 5-game 9-day road trip starting tonight facing the (13-9) Utah Jazz in the first of three back-to-back games.
All five Lakers’ starters scored in double figures, but it wasn’t enough. Kobe Bryant had 16 points, but he was just seven-for-24 shooting from the field. Bryant tried to play through a stomach ache, but it was clear that it bothered him.
In the third, the Lakers tightened up the defense, holding Utah to 21 points, but then the offense went cold. 18 points in the third, 23 in the fourth. That wasn’t enough to make up the deficit. Kobe Bryant, fighting a bug and his first night playing with a splint on his right index finger to protect the avulsion fracture he suffered last night against the Wolves, struggled on both ends. Offensively, he was limited to 16 points on 7-24 shooting. Meanwhile, he was a step slow defensively, getting burned by the Jazz when he played off his man to do the “center field” thing.
Ron Artest played a pretty strong game (16 points, putting him over 10,000 for his career). Derek Fisher was 6-8 from the floor, but had to sit in the second half with foul trouble. Pau Gasol had his second straight 20 rebound game, but Andrew Bynum only had four in thirty minutes of burn. Overall, not a robust performance from the purple and gold.
The game against the Jazz in Salt Lake was the first of a five-game trip for the Lakers. The Lakers will return home tonight, practice Monday and head to Chicago that afternoon.
– LA Times