From Brian Kamenetzky, Land O’ Lakers: If the collective purpose for the Lakers and Jazz in Tuesday night’s game at Staples was to set basketball back about 50 years, congratulations on a spectacular effort. If it was to entertain those in attendance … yikes. Describing the lack of quality in a way to do it justice is difficult. The teams combined for 19 turnovers in the first half, and in the second quarter produced 12 points over the first eight minutes of play, just to toss out a couple of “for examples.” With the loss, the Lakers very likely have polished off any chance of catching either San Antonio or Chicago in the standings, but on the other side have left themselves open to Miami, only one game behind in the loss column, and Boston (also one game back, though the Lakers own the tiebreaker over the Celtics).
From ESPN Stats and Info via TrueHoop: After 17 wins in 18 games since the All-Star break, the Los Angeles Lakers lost their second straight game Tuesday falling to the Utah Jazz by one point. Kobe Bryant scored 20+ points for the eighth straight game, but had seven turnovers including one on the Lakers’ last possession. The 86-85 loss was the Lakers’ first loss at STAPLES Center against the Jazz in their last 18 meetings including the playoffs. Prior to Tuesday, New Year’s Day 2006 was Utah’s last road win against the Lakers. The Lakers have lost back-to-back home games for the first time since January 28-30 when Sacramento and Boston defeated them. The loss also dropped L.A. 3 1/2 games back of the San Antonio Spurs for the top spot in the Western Conference.
From J.M. Poulard, Warriors World: At age 32, Kobe Bryant is submitting a PER of 23.9 (seventh best in his career) all the while having the highest usage rate (34.9 percent) of any player in the league. His team is in the hunt for the best record in the NBA and he is one of the biggest reasons why. For his career, the Mamba owns the 18th best PER in NBA history, is 10th all time in points per game and registers as eighth on the all time on the scoring list. In addition, Bryant may end up being the best player to have ever played for a franchise that has been the home of legends such as Elgin Baylor, Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson and Shaquille O’Neal. Oh, and he is the proud owner of five championship rings. As previously mentioned, Bryant has faced a lot of criticism during his years in the NBA, some of it warranted and some of it not so much; but can we all agree that he is a phenomenal player who has battled some personal demons?
From C.A. Clark, Silver Screen and Roll: I don’t know about you, but I’ve been praying for forgiveness for the last hour. I’m not what you would call a religious man, but after watching tonight’s game, I felt the need to apologize for whatever transgressions against the Maker I’ve made. I’m not sure what I’ve done, but that doesn’t matter. Penance must be paid. I suggest you do the same. I don’t care what religion you belong to, there has to be a way for you to ask your idea of God to forgive you. If you don’t believe in God, then just call your mother and apologize. I’m sure you’ve done something wrong. Because there can be no other explanation for what we just witnessed than punishment from an angry deity. This was angry Old Testament God at his worst, the basketball equivalent of forty days and forty nights of torrential downpour. Tonight, fire and brimstone (that’s an old school word for brick, right?) rained down on our basketball souls. Oh, and the Lakers lost too.
From Kevin Ding, OC Register: It’s funny that the Lakers are playing these games in hopes of getting more home games for the postseason. The Lakers again played like a team tired of playing home games and dropped their second game in three days at Staples Center — losing to the inexperienced and injury-plagued Utah Jazz, 86-85. It was the Lakers’ ninth home game out of their 10 dates since March 14. Kobe Bryant took just one shot in the first half — missing it — and couldn’t find his stroke most of the second half. He made two key late 3-pointers, one to forge an 85-85 tie with 16 seconds left. But he fouled Jazz rookie Gordon Hayward from behind at the other end with Lamar Odom — again playing down the stretch ahead of Andrew Bynum — too late in closing down the lane properly.
From Mark Medina, LA Times: The clock ticked away with the ball in his hands. That’s the cue for Lakers guard Kobe Bryant to make a game-winning shot. At first, it appeared he would follow the storyline the 18,8891 at Staples Center had seen plenty of times. He dribbled to his right, pump faked and then pivoted to his left. With 1.8 seconds remaining, there was more than enough time for Bryant to pull up for a jumper, secure the game winner, and all the anxious fans would go home happy. Instead, the ball went off his fingertips, bounced off his knee and provided an ugly ending to an ugly 86-85 loss Tuesday to the Utah Jazz, the Lakers’ second consecutive defeat. “It slipped,” Bryant said of the final play. “It slipped out of my hands.”
From Jill Planter, LA Daily News: Kobe Bryant stood in the lane, staring at both of his hands in bewilderment. With the ball in his hands in the waning seconds, Bryant didn’t even get a chance to knock down the winning shot Tuesday. He lost the ball driving the lane against the Utah Jazz as they shocked the playoff-bound Lakers 86-85 at Staples Center. “It slipped,” Bryant said. “It slipped out of my hands.” And with that turnover, the Lakers’ chances to secure homecourt advantage in the Western Conference surely were frittered away, too. The Lakers probably can’t catch San Antonio for first place, and if they don’t find their post-All-Star rhythm again, it could get worse. “Now, we’ve got to think about second place because Dallas is one game back,” Andrew Bynum said. Bryant’s play was symbolic of the game, so ugly for the Jazz and Lakers that Bryant said the Lakers should “flush that (crap) down the toilet.”