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Lakers' reserves falter against the Jazz

Utah's bench unit is the group that makes a difference as Shannon Brown, Steve Blake and Matt Barnes struggle in a 102-96 loss.

November 27, 2010|By Broderick Turner

Reporting from Salt Lake City — This night, the game did not belong to the Lakers' bench.

So many times this season, Lakers reserves Shannon Brown, Matt Barnes and Steve Blake have been the best substitutes on the court, leading many to say L.A. has the best bench in the NBA, far better than last season's group.

But during the Lakers' 102-96 loss to the Jazz at EnergySolutions Arena, it was Utah's bench that shined, that was the difference-maker.

After the game, after the Lakers had their five-game winning streak ended, Coach Phil Jackson went easy on his bench.

"There will be some tough times on the road," Jackson said.

Consider this one of those times.

Entering the game, the Lakers' bench averaged 32.1 points a game, 11th-best in the NBA. The Jazz's bench averaged 23.9 points, the 28th-best mark.

It was a different story Friday night.

Utah used C.J. Miles, Francisco Elson, Kyrylo Fesenko, Gordon Hayward, Ronnie Price and Earl Watson.

They accounted for 20 points on seven-for-20 shooting, 15 rebounds and seven assists.

More important, they brought energy to the Jazz when it was needed the most.

The Lakers' bench produced 13 points on five-for-21 shooting, with two assists and seven rebounds.

"We've seen what the Lakers' bench has been doing," said Price, who had seven points that included a big-time dunk. "We've seen what Shannon Brown has been doing. He's been having a great year so far. Steve Blake has played well. Those guys are good additions. They are not really losing much with those guys on the floor. It kind of gives our bench an opportunity to see where we are."

It was the Jazz bench that turned the game around.

The Lakers built a 19-point lead early in the second quarter, but the reserves couldn't hold that lead.

"We came out and we lost the lead, really," said Brown, who was two for eight shooting from the field. "We got [their bench] going, got their crowd going, got everybody going, really, in that second quarter. That's something that we can't do, especially when you're not knocking down shots."

By the end of the second quarter, the Lakers' lead was down to four points.

Price had all seven of his points in the second quarter. Watson had all eight of his points in the second. He also had four assists and three rebounds in the second.

"Our role is just to come in and try and bring some energy," Price said. "We have such a great team that we knew if we could bring some type of energy to kind of help us get back reasonable, that our first group can come in and handle it."

Price threw down a left-handed dunk over a standing Lamar Odom in that second quarter.

That play seemed to ignite the crowd.

"Earl made the pass and I jumped," Price said. "Before I knew it, I saw the rim and I was like, 'OK, I can try to finish this.' "

The Lakers dressed slowly after the game, all of them putting on jackets and hats because of the cold weather here.

For Blake, it was a colder shooting night.

He missed all seven of his shots, including four three-pointers.

It was something he wasn't happy about.

"Myself personally, I didn't show up," Blake said. "I didn't make the shots I normally make. It was just one of those nights. I got good looks. It happens. I'll knock them down the next time."

broderick.turner@latimes.com

twitter.com/BA_Turner

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