And on the third day they got the win. The Los Angeles Lakers must have pleased new head coach Mike Brown quite a bit on Tuesday night as they buckled down on defense and defeated the Utah Jazz 96-71 at the Staple Center for their first victory of the season. Brown stressed strong defense first and foremost during his days as the head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers and his new club dominated in their third straight game in three nights by shutting down their opponents. Utah shot just 32.2% (29-90) from the floor and embarrassed themselves by going just 1-13 from outside the arc. Only two Jazz players scored in double-figures; both off the bench with Paul Millsap putting up 18 points while Josh Howard added 10 in their first game of the campaign.
Kobe Bryant once again led the Lakers with 26 points while Pau Gasol knocked down 22 points for the night. The club is still playing without center Andrew Bynum who sat out his third contest of his four game suspension. Utah center Al Jefferson did grab ten rebounds but was not a factor offensively scoring just four points in the game.
Neither side looked at all impressive in the opening period; however Gasol split a pair at the line with 48 seconds remaining putting the Lakers on top 18-17 at the conclusion of the quarter. Los Angeles recovered their shooting touch in the second, but the same could not be said for their opponent. Gasol drove the lane putting the ball up and in at the buzzer and the Lakers walked into the locker room with a comfortable advantage of 41-31.
Any hopes that the Jazz held about coming back in this contest were quickly dashed in the third as the home team soon found that Utah was just a speck in the team’s rear-view mirror. When the smoke cleared at the end of the period Los Angeles held a commanding lead of 71-46. The Jazz never came close to being a threat in the fourth quarter as the Lakers completed the rout.
Bryant scored 26 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, a block and a steal in his team’s first victory of the campaign. Gasol had 22 points, 9 rebounds, 5 blocks and 2 steals while Metta World Peace had another nice night coming in off the bench as he added 14 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block and 1 steal.
Millsap scored 18 points, 8 rebounds and 1 block in the contest. Howard who signed with the team last week chipped in 10 points, 3 assists, 2 rebounds and a steal in the loss. Los Angeles improves to 1-2 and will host the Knicks on Thursday while Utah opens the season at 0-1 and travel to Denver where they will take on the Nuggets on Wednesday.