Lakers nearly set a dubious team record in an 86-74 loss to Utah

The great debate Sunday: Would the Lakers score under 70 points and set a team record?

They almost did in a numbingly boring 86-74 loss to the Utah Jazz at Staples Center.

They shot 28.6% in the first half, 32.6% overall and found a new way to lose — with only 10 players suiting up because of injuries and, indeed, the timing of a Development League event.

Larry Nance Jr.'s free throw with 1 minute 8 seconds left gave the Lakers 71 points, ensuring their 70 against Cleveland in 2002 was still their worst output in the shot-clock era.

Kobe Bryant (strained right Achilles' tendon), D'Angelo Russell (sprained right ankle) and Brandon Bass (scratched right cornea) were all sidelined for the game, which resembled a D-League contest.

Perhaps it was a nod to Lakers reserves Ryan Kelly and Tarik Black, who were unavailable because they played in the "D-League Showcase" on Sunday in Santa Cruz and couldn't return in time to Staples Center.

The Lakers trailed at halftime, 43-30, and had 50 points through three quarters, otherwise known as a bad first half for Golden State.

Lou Williams made only five of 17 shots for 18 points, exactly 26 fewer than his career night Friday against Oklahoma City. Jordan Clarkson also had a rough night, making six of 19 shots for 14 points.

"It seemed like there was a little bit of a lid on the rim," Lakers Coach Byron Scott said.

Or a very, very large one.

Russell might need another day or two to recover, Scott said, while Bryant's return time wasn't as clear. It wasn't believed to be a serious injury.

"I totally forgot that he had mentioned that the last game to me in the fourth quarter, that he felt he strained it a little bit but he was OK," Scott said Sunday. "It didn't even cross my mind until … [trainer] Gary Vitti texted me earlier [Sunday] afternoon to let me know that [Bryant] wasn't going to be able to play."

Bryant scored 19 points Friday in the Lakers' 117-113 loss to Oklahoma City. He went scoreless in four minutes of the fourth quarter.

"He just shrugged and said, 'I'm OK' and he finished out the game," Scott said.

It is not the same Achilles' tendon that ended Bryant's 2012-13 season.

Since announcing his desire to retire after this season, Bryant has played in 13 of 14 road games (92.3%) and five of 10 home games (50%). The only road game he skipped was at Oklahoma City, and the Lakers play there again in April.

It will be interesting to see whether Bryant recovers in time for Thursday's game at Golden State. The Lakers play at home Tuesday against downtrodden New Orleans.

As for Sunday's action, or lack thereof, the Lakers made one of 12 shots (8.3%) to start.

It got better, but only slightly.

Gordon Hayward had 25 points for Utah, which certainly didn't light up the arena, shooting 39.3% through three quarters.

In case anybody cared, Kelly had 23 points and Black had 11 points in the L.A. D-Fenders' 106-103 loss to the Grand Rapids Drive.

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
A version of this article appeared in print on January 11, 2016, in the Sports section of the Los Angeles Times with the headline "Scott cuts no slack; GM has his back - Kupchak endorses coach's often acerbic `tough love' style with young Lakers. - UTAH 86, LAKERS 74" — Today's paperToday's paper | Subscribe
50°