Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, next to Utah forward Enes Kanter, reacts after… (Colin E Braley / Associated…)
Reporting from Salt Lake City -- Even the Lakers had never been this lost on the road.
Coach Mike Brown appeared to bump a referee in disgust over a no-call early in the fourth quarter and was ejected. His replacement, assistant John Kuester, picked up a technical foul shortly thereafter.
The technical difficulties were part of an epic meltdown in which the Lakers surrendered 14 consecutive points to the Utah Jazz on the way to an emotionally charged 96-87 loss Saturday night at EnergySolutions Arena.
Brown was miffed after Utah guard Earl Watson mugged Lakers forward Pau Gasol on a steal that led to a dunk by Derrick Favors that gave the Jazz a 74-68 lead with 8 minutes 37 seconds left in the game. The Lakers coach then charged onto the court and appeared to make contact with referee Zach Zarba, earning two technical fouls and his first ejection of the season.
"I thought [Watson] ran through him to get to the ball," Brown said after watching a replay in the locker room.
The Jazz went on to score the next nine points to complete its 14-0 run, taking an 83-68 lead. Even nine consecutive points by Kobe Bryant later in the quarter could not help the Lakers climb out of the hole.
Gasol finished with 24 points and 16 rebounds for the Lakers, whose modest two-game road winning streak came to an inglorious end in the wake of the controversial play.
"There was definitely contact," said Gasol, who was dribbling near the top of the key when Watson stripped the ball. "There was definitely a possibility for the ref to make the call. He didn't make it."
When it was over, Lakers reserve Devin Ebanks shook his head on his way off the court and Kuester barked at the referees. Brown said he apologized to his team after the game but did not think his action resulted in the defeat.
"I shouldn't have done what I did because it put our team in a deeper hole than it was in," Brown said. "It's not good to do that. It's not setting a good example or setting the right tone for our team. And the bottom line was Utah was more physical than us tonight and they kicked our behind on the glass and they kicked our behind in the half-court and you have to give them credit.
"I made it probably a little worse by getting kicked out."
Bryant scored 11 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter, sparking a rally that pulled the Lakers to within six points on two occasions before the Jazz pulled away.
Lakers center Andrew Bynum finished with 21 points, 12 rebounds and the most jaw-dropping assist of the game, collecting a rebound early in the third quarter and then making a no-look, over-the-shoulder pass to Gasol for a dunk.
It wasn't enough, as the Lakers fell to 3-8 on the road.
Bryant, who also picked up one of the Lakers' four technical fouls, blamed the defeat on the discrepancy in rebounding, not a loss of composure. Utah grabbed 18 offensive rebounds and outrebounded the Lakers overall, 50-42.
"We're not doing a very good job of controlling the defensive glass," said Bryant, who teamed with Bynum and Gasol to score 71 of the Lakers' 87 points. "Teams are getting so many second-chance opportunities."
Brown could face disciplinary action from the league over the contact with the referee.
"I don't know," Brown said when asked if he bumped Zarba. "I'm just upset about the loss."