Before facing an opponent that pushed the
He told them it didn't matter that so many Lakers were injured, that they could still win games despite their low numbers.
They came close Monday night, but lost to the
“I told them the fight is something they should be proud of,” Lakers Coach
The Lakers' third consecutive loss, and eighth in 11 games, dropped their record to 10-13. The Jazz improved to 13-9.
Williams took a career-high 27 field-goal attempts and made a career-high 13 of them. This also marks the first time in his career that he has scored 30 or more points in back-to-back games. Jordan Clarkson added 17 points with five rebounds.
The Lakers were without injured guards Nick Young (strained calf), D'Angelo Russell (sore knee) and Jose Calderon (strained hamstring), and forward Larry Nance Jr., recovering from a knee injury, was said to be available only in case of an emergency and did not play.
Because of the absences, the Lakers started an unconventional lineup, using four players who are traditionally forwards to go along with center
"I like unconventional," Walton said. "I wouldn't go to it if we were at full strength; I wouldn't have tried it. But with all the injuries we had, just try something to disrupt what they do and still hopefully get done what we're trying to get done. I thought it worked OK as far as what we thought would happen. They [the Jazz] shot lights-out early in that game."
It was the eighth different starting lineup the Lakers have used this season and they struggled together as the Jazz opened the game with an 8-1 run. Facing the same Lakers lineup at the start of the second half, Utah scored 14 unanswered points to build an 18-point lead.
“Being down 18 at home is almost embarrassing,” Lakers forward
Each time, though, Williams stopped the bleeding. His entrance into the game in the fourth quarter led to an 8-0 Lakers run. In the third quarter, he hit the Lakers' first field goal, a three-pointer to cut the Utah lead to 15.
After ballooning its 57-53 halftime edge to 71-53, the Jazz maintained a lead in the teens for the rest of the third quarter.
Late in that period, the Lakers added another injury — center Tarik Black left the game with a right ankle sprain. He had an X-ray that was negative for fractures.
Even so depleted, the Lakers fought back. Down 89-74 entering the fourth quarter, they twice got to within three points of the Jazz. Randle made a put-back layup to bring the score to 98-95. A few plays later, following Lakers turnovers on back-to-back possessions, Williams again brought them to within three with a floater with 3:26 to play.
That was as close as Utah let them get, but it left the Lakers with something on which to build.
"You're encouraged that guys are willing to fight to the buzzer," Williams said. "When guys get back, I'm sure we'll turn some of these into wins."