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Jazz hand Lakers worst loss of the season

Lakers forward LeBron James goes to the basket as Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert defends.
Lakers forward LeBron James goes to the basket as Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert defends during the first half on Wednesday in Salt Lake City.
(Rick Bowmer / Associated Press)

The Lakers didn’t just lose a basketball game Wednesday against the league-leading Utah Jazz.

They lost a math problem.

It wasn’t some complicated algorithm or advanced statistic that people assign to the NBA’s analytical revolution. Nope, it was simple.

Three is better than two and 22 is way better than eight.

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The Utah Jazz, a team that makes and takes more three-point shots than anyone else in the NBA, took and made a lot more threes than the Lakers who were badly dominated on both sides of the court in a 114-89 loss.

The Jazz hit 14 more threes than the Lakers — a 42-point discrepancy that was way too much to overcome considering the circumstances.

A pair of lineup changes — Talen Horton-Tucker and Markieff Morris started for Wesley Matthews and Kyle Kuzma — helped push the Lakers to a strong start in the opening quarter, with the Jazz making just 30% of their two-point shots.

Trouble was, they hit 50% from three, outscoring the Lakers by 15 points in the first quarter from beyond the arc.

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Still, the Lakers trailed by only one point early in the second when LeBron James thought he was fouled, the ball poked loose and the Jazz going the other way while the Lakers’ star looked to the officials for a call.

Lakers point guard Dennis Schroder has shelled out $4.275 million for a modern Tarzana home with a basketball court.

Three Utah possessions later, the Lakers were down 10, on the wrong side of a numbers game making a comeback nearly impossible.

Utah hit 14 three-point shots in the first half as the Jazz built a 17-point lead. The Lakers have played 24 games this season where they didn’t make 14 threes.

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After beating the Lakers from deep in the first half, Utah easily moved past the Lakers defense, still without Anthony Davis and Dennis Schroder, in the third.

Like a football team that established the deep pass early, the Jazz were able to merely run it down the middle as the game got even more out of hand.

The only positive came in the second half when LeBron James went to the bench after a night of relatively light work – 19 points on seven-of-13 shooting in 28 minutes.

It’s the fourth straight loss for the Lakers, who are hopeful of getting Schroder back Friday against Portland at Staples Center.

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Worst-case scenario

In the first quarter, James went into the air to catch a lob, Utah’s Royce O’Neale a blink behind him. The two players made a little contact, and James crashed toward the court, with his left leg landing awkwardly before he fell onto his right hip.

For a second, he lingered on the ground, minds racing as the possibility of another injured star would make hearts sink.

But like almost always, James got up, dusted himself up and the next time he touched the paint, he planted and took off for a two-handed slam. He’d later forcefully throw down a one-handed dunk.

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‘All-Star’ doesn’t mean all stars all the time

Davis was selected to his eighth All-Star game on Tuesday by the coaches in the Western Conference, but because of his injury, Phoenix guard Devin Booker was appointed by the league to replace him.

Another player the NBA certainly had to consider reminded everyone why he’s so eager to shed the “best player never to make an All-Star appearance” label.

Veteran Jazz guard Mike Conley, who has been wonderful in his second season in Utah, scored eight quick points for the Jazz, hitting all three of his shots in the first quarter before staying hot into the second.

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Pau Gasol, who won two NBA titles with Kobe Bryant and the Lakers, announced Tuesday he is rejoining FC Barcelona, the team with which he started his career.

Doing what he can

The Lakers were being stretched thin by the Utah Jazz offense, shooters all over the court while the team attacked the paint and quickly shot the ball back to the perimeter.

The offense was struggling to keep up and there was nothing one of their best players could do — well almost nothing.

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During a timeout in the second quarter, Davis, watching the game from the sideline as he recovers from calf and Achilles injuries, grabbed a computer tablet to go over film quickly with Montrezl Harrell and Morris.

“He’s active, just staying engaged in the game,” Vogel said pregame. “Talking to coaches or his teammates about coverages or offensive spacing concepts, just ways that he can share his lens on what he’s seeing from the bench. So, he’s staying very active and involved.”


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