SALT LAKE CITY -- Not even Kobe Bryant's 38 points could save the Lakers from one of the worst offensive performances in team history.
Bryant had another big game, but nobody else on the Lakers did as Utah held them to record lows for field goals and shooting percentage in a 104-78
win over Los Angeles on Wednesday night.
"They play extremely hard, and when you fall behind like that, that's why the challenge is just to keep your poise," Bryant said.
The Jazz got the defending Western Conference champions -- or what's left of them after a tumultuous summer -- flustered early and held a double-digit
lead for most of the game. Utah also blocked 14 shots and held the Lakers to 20 field goals, breaking the previous franchise low by three. Los Angeles
shot 29.4 percent, also the worst in team history.
"I don't know who that says more about, but I thought we did a good job playing good team defense," said Raja Bell, one of five Utah players to score
in double figures with 10 points.
Carlos Boozer, who signed as a free agent last summer, made his Utah debut by leading the team with 27 points and 11 rebounds against the
Shaqless-Lakers, who were also without Vlade Divac (back).
"It was definitely a little different. It opened up a lot on the inside," Boozer said. "They have very good perimeter players, but we got them to make
turnovers all game."
Matt Harpring, who missed the second half of last season after having knee surgery, finished with 23 points and seven rebounds. Andrei Kirilenko led
the defensive charge with eight blocks to go with his 16 points.
Keith McLeod had eight assists -- one more than the Lakers -- in his first NBA start.
"I never did that before. I'll put that in my own personal record book," McLeod said with a slight smile.
The Lakers opened the season the night before with an 89-78 win over Denver, then traveled to Utah and didn't arrive until nearly 3 a.m. Wednesday
local time. They were weary from the start and it showed.
Los Angeles' first four possessions ended in a missed shot, a shot clock violation, a block by Kirilenko and a charge called on Lamar Odom, the only
other Lakers player in double figures with 14 points.
The Lakers went 20-for-68 from the floor and never recovered after scoring only 13 in the first quarter.
"It's tough to win on somebody else's court, especially with the emotion that they had here opening night," new Lakers coach Rudy Tomjanovich said.
Utah held a double-digit lead from the first quarter on, and even Bryant's 27-point second half wasn't nearly enough.
Bryant finally got the Lakers going in the second half, scoring 17 in the third quarter, but the Jazz still held a 15-point lead entering the final
period and never let it get closer than 12.
Gordan Giricek scored 11. Howard Eisley, who played for Utah from 1995-00, signed with the Jazz earlier Wednesday and finished with four points and
It is my personal mission to make note of every time that the Jazz beat the Lakers this season.
[Edited on 11/5/2004 by Gibbs Baby!!!]