Lakers unhappy with fourth-quarter performance


You can look at cold, hard statistics to analyze the compelling, roller-coasterish fourth quarter between the Lakers and the Jazz in Game 1.

But that wouldn’t be nearly as fun or as amusing.

TNT’s NBA analyst Reggie Miller reached back into his youth and summoned a whimsical and pretty accurate visual from the playground or recreation room.

“The Lakers seem to be playing the Jazz like the childhood toy the yo-yo,” he said. “Remember the trick with the yo-yo called ‘Walking the Dog’?

“Every time the Jazz got close or made a run, the Lakers and Kobe Bryant would simply ‘Walk the Dog.’ ”

You could say the dog pretty much got off the leash to start the fourth quarter.

Utah trailed 81-73 heading into the final quarter and crept back into it when the Lakers opened the fourth by shooting one for 10.

“I know we lost, but it just seemed like we had more juice; I don’t know what it was,” said Carlos Boozer of the Jazz. “Maybe because we were playing from behind, we had more energy.”

Said the Lakers’ Luke Walton: “Utah is great at executing. Whether they’re up 20 or down 20, whatever it is, they will always execute …

“They were getting run-outs and easy buckets and we were messing up defensive rotations and they were the ones executing on offense. It was a mistake. Luckily, we still won the game. We feel bad about it, but we’ll correct it for Game 2.”

The Jazz was up by four points, leading 93-89 with 4:10 remaining before Bryant seized control and quickly reeled Utah back in, just like the aforementioned yo-yo.

Bryant scored 11 of his 31 points in the final four minutes.

So, why was it so difficult for the Jazz to make stops down the stretch?

“Well, again, basketball is a game of helping each other,” Utah Coach Jerry Sloan said. “If you’re going to allow your teammate to be out there with one of the best players in the world and not come off your man and try to give help …”

Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko, who has been out because of a lingering left injured calf, could be the answer for the Jazz. He is hopeful of returning Tuesday in Game 2 but feels more certain about Game 3 on Saturday at Utah.

“It would definitely help to have him out there, another body to throw at Kobe, maybe Lamar [Odom],” Jazz point guard Deron Williams said. “He’s so versatile that he can play multiple positions. What he can do on the offensive end with his passing ability … We’re missing him.”

Still, as far as the Lakers were concerned, it shouldn’t have even reached that crisis point late in Game 1.

“I’m not taking anything away from Utah. I just know how we can play,” Odom said. “We can play a lot better together by using each other, playing off each other.”

That didn’t happen in the fourth quarter, much to his displeasure. He said the Lakers have been “fighting all year” to play their “A game” with each other.

“Individually, we’ve had good times and good games out there,” Odom said. “But as a group, I hate to go to stats, but I think our bench is ranked something like 28th in the league this year. That’s kind of low.”

Times staff writer Broderick Turner contributed to this report.

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