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Question of the Day
LOS ANGELES (AP) - There was no emotional letdown by the Utah Jazz following their stunning upset of the two-time defending champion Miami Heat over the weekend.
The Los Angeles Lakers just didn’t have enough healthy front-line players to make that happen.
It was the second time this season that the third-year shooting guard led Utah in scoring during a victory. The other was Jan. 13 against Denver, when they rode his career-high 34 points to a 118-103 triumph at Salt Lake City.
“Alec is kind of our Jamal Crawford in some games, and we need him to come in and score for us,” Gordon Hayward said. “He brings a lot of energy off the bench, and he’s had some really huge games for us this year. We can usually tell from the beginning that when he’s active and he’s more engaged in the game, he’s going to have a good night.
“And, tonight, you could tell right away that was going to happen.”
“It was a great effort by the bench and the starters,” Burke said. “Everybody played great. Everybody was aggressive and fought hard.”
Chris Kaman had 25 points and 14 boards for the Lakers, who have dropped nine of 11 overall and 21 of 26 since Dec. 21. The loss to Utah put Los Angeles in 14th place in the Western Conference, a half-game behind the Jazz and a game ahead of last-place Sacramento.
Undermined all season by a run of injuries, the Lakers most likely will miss the postseason for only the fifth time since the franchise relocated from Minneapolis to Los Angeles in 1960-61.
Five of their top six scorers - Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Jordan Farmar, Nick Young, Jodie Meeks and Xavier Henry - are still on the shelf. The only one from that group who played Tuesday was newcomer Kendall Marshall, who had seven points and seven assists.
“It’s frustrating,” Kaman said. “A lot of our guys are just trying to figure out where they’re supposed to be and what they’re supposed to be doing, because we’ve had so many guys hurt and then come back.”
Marshall had 20 points and 15 assists against the Jazz on Jan. 3 - the last time the Lakers won a game at Staples Center. That was the first of his 15 starts at point guard before Steve Nash’s return to the starting lineup on Sunday.
The 40-year-old Nash made a quick recovery from Sunday’s loss to Chicago, which he left in the third quarter after getting hit in the his left leg - the same one that was fractured last season.
The two-time MVP, who missed 39 games with a nerve problem in his back before returning to the lineup last week, played 16½ minutes against the Jazz before sitting out the second half. He had two points and two assists.
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