Last night got a little crazy at Staples Center. In the fourth quarter of the Lakers' destruction of the Dallas Mavericks, two separate hard fouls led to five ejections, including three Lakers for retaliation: Matt Banres, Steve Blake, and Shannon Brown. Tonight, however, the Lakers travel to Utah to face the Jazz, who have lost their fight this season. The Jazz have lost six in a row.
Utah was once 27-13, and a contender for a top three seed in the Western Conference, but a rift between coach Jerry Sloan and point guard Deron Williams tore the team apart. Now, after Sloan's abrupt retirement and the trade of Williams, the Jazz are a shell of their former selves, having lost 26 of their last 35 games. However, the Lakers always have a tough time in Utah, and are 4-6 in their last 10 games at Energy Solutions Arena. Factor in that tonight is the second night of back-to-back nights for the Lakers, and well, anything can happen.
Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 28 points last night against Dallas, and he has led the Lakers in scoring in 14 of their last 17 games against the Jazz. The Lakers lost earlier this season in Utah, 102-96 on November 26, but that was without center Andrew Bynum. Bynum, who tallied 18 points, 13 rebounds, and two blocks last night, is averaging 12.2 points, 12.4 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per contest since the All-Star break. The Lakers play the Jazz twice in the next five days.
For more news and information on the Lakers and tonight's game, be sure to read Silver Screen and Roll.