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Lakers, Kobe Bryant can't iron out problems

Kobe's night is all rim shots (3 for 20) and turnovers (seven) in ugly 103-99 loss to the Utah Jazz.

March 18, 2012|By Ben Bolch

The Lakers finally have a bad home loss.

It took an uncharacteristically off performance from Kobe Bryant, who made only three of 20 shots, and an unsightly 24 turnovers for the Lakers to find themselves on the wrong end of a 103-99 defeat against the Utah Jazz on Sunday night at Staples Center.

Miami or Oklahoma City, this wasn't. The Jazz came into the game with a .500 record and was missing starters Al Jefferson and Raja Bell. No matter.

Bryant had a chance to make up for all his misses in the final seconds when he hoisted a three-point attempt that could have tied the score. Alas, the ball bounced off the rim and was grabbed by Paul Millsap with 0.5 of a second left before Millsap made one of two free throws to end the Lakers' five-game winning streak.

"It just seems like it's one of those nights where we're throwing the ball all over the place, couldn't make a shot," said Bryant, who finished with 15 points and seven turnovers. "We'll have a game like this every now and then."

Not so much at home. The Lakers are now 19-3 at Staples Center, where they had won 10 consecutive games before Sunday and their only previous losses had come against Eastern Conference contenders Indiana and Chicago.

Lakers center Andrew Bynum had 33 points on 12-for-14 shooting to go with 11 rebounds, and forward Pau Gasol had 18 points and 10 rebounds. It wasn't enough on a night Bryant scored mostly on the strength of making eight of nine free throws.

"I didn't force anything," said Bryant, who made only one of six three-point shots. "They were all easy looks. I only took 20 shots."

Bryant missed driving layups. He missed floaters. He missed short turnaround jumpers.

Was any of it good defense by the Jazz?

"Not at all," Bryant said. "Did you see the shots I had? It was almost comical."

Newcomer Ramon Sessions was part of the shooting problems (one for seven) but contributed zero turnovers and had six assists.

The Lakers continued their recent horror show on defense, surrendering at least 100 points for the fifth time in seven games. Millsap had 24 points for Utah and Enes Kanter and Alec Burks had 17 each off the bench.

"That's not who we are," Lakers Coach Mike Brown said of his team's defensive effort. "We have to get back to committing on the defensive end of the floor and not giving up buckets the way we have been."

Both teams were short-handed by the end of the game. Jefferson had left the team to attend his grandmother's funeral and Bell had a strained groin, but the Lakers had their own injury concerns when forward Metta World Peace experienced bursitis in his left hip and played only 18 minutes. He did not play in the fourth quarter.

The Lakers still had a chance in the final minute after Matt Barnes blocked a shot by Millsap and Bryant saved the ball to Gasol. Bryant eventually took the shot that could have sent the game to overtime but instead left his team with one of its most dispiriting losses.

Brown refused to second-guess his shooting guard.

"For me, the shots he took, he's our guy," Brown said. "I'll play that game all over again and have him shoot the same shots and if he goes three for 20 again, he goes three for 20. To go away from him when he's getting those looks, I'm not going to do it."

ben.bolch@latimes.com

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