NBA: Jazz down lackluster Lakers
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LOS ANGELES – Paul Millsap scored 24 points with nine rebounds to lead the Utah Jazz to a 117-110 NBA victory on Sunday over the struggling Los Angeles Lakers.
The Jazz withstood 34 points from Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant and have now won three straight, while Los Angeles Lost for the seventh time in 10 games.
Mo Williams scored 22 points and Al Jefferson chipped in 14 with 11 rebounds for Utah.
Enes Kanter came off the bench to score 14 points with six rebounds and Gordon Hayward also contributed 14 points.
The Lakers never led in the second half and trailed by as many as 15 in the fourth quarter.
A last-gasp surge pulled the Lakers to 115-110 with 1:10 remaining, but Bryant missed two three-point attempts with less than a minute to play.
Jordan Hill added a career-high 17 points and nine rebounds for the Lakers, who were without Pau Gasol for the fourth successive game because of tendinitis in his knees.
Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said before the game his current plan was to have Spain’s Gasol back in the starting lineup when he returns, rather than bringing him off the bench.
“He’s too important to the team and he’s earned it and he’s too good of a player to even go there yet,” D’Antoni said.
Although D’Antoni benched him the fourth quarter of two games before Gasol began resting his sore knees, the coach acknowledged that the team’s offensive scheme had contributed to Gasol’s ineffectiveness.
“There’s times when we’re not exploiting him, where he should be and what he’s doing and everything,” D’Antoni said. “So it’s a little bit out of kilter and until we get it all straight and balanced then I really can’t make a decision or he can’t feel comfortable.”
The Lakers were also without point guard Steve Nash, who has missed 19 games because of a broken left leg.
D’Antoni optimistically predicted this weekend that Nash could return on the Lakers’ looming four-game road trip, but then backtracked.
“I wanted Steve to come back last week, in my mind. But he’s got a timetable and he’s not running yet, so there’s no way he’s going to play right now,” D’Antoni said.
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