The Lakers hadn't played on back-to-back nights for over a month, so forgive them if they were a little rusty at first Friday night. The Utah Jazz pulled out to a 16-point lead late in the second quarter, but the Lakers turned up the defense and turned out the lights at Energy Solutions Arena, pulling away to beat the Jazz 96-85. It was the ninth win in a row for the Lakers, who are 17-1 since the All-Star break.
The Lakers had five players in double figures, led by Kobe Bryant with 21 points. Pau Gasol added 16 points and nine rebounds for the Lakers, who outscored the Jazz 54-37 in the second half. Lamar Odom had 16 points and seven boards off the bench for the Lakers, and it came under rough conditions, per Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register:
LO was throwing up before game ...and now is headed to team plane with full 12-pack of Gatorade bottles. Seriously, 12.
As for the Lakers turning things around in the second half, our own Dexter Fishmore has the numbers:
2nd half points per possession: Lakers - 1.29, Jazz - 0.88. For the game: Lakers - 1.12, Jazz - 0.98.
The Lakers are now 55-20, tied with the Chicago Bulls for the second best record in the NBA. The San Antonio Spurs, however, lost their sixth game in a row tonight, and now stand at 57-19, just a game ahead in the loss column. The Lakers host the Spurs on April 12 at Staples Center. Suddenly that number seed and home court advantage throughout the playoffs doesn't look so implausible.
For more news and information on the Lakers and tonight's game, be sure to read Silver Screen and Roll.