In Kobe Bryant’s final visit to Salt Lake City, Gordon Hayward and the Utah Jazz handed the Los Angeles Lakers star the most lopsided loss of his storied career.
The Utah Jazz put on a clinic Monday night and drubbed the Lakers by a final score of 123-75. G-Time finished with 11 points, six assists, three boards and two steals as the Jazz shot better than 51 percent from the floor and tallied a franchise-record 17 three-pointers in the blowout win.
Before the game, H20 wanted to make sure he and his teammates stayed focused in light of Kobe’s last stop in Utah on his farewell tour. The Jazz did just that and came away with a key victory to help Hayward and Co. keep pace in the playoff race.
“It’s his farewell tour. We have to come ready to play though. It’s going to be a big game, huge game for us as a team,” G explained. “We’re trying to make the playoffs so we can’t worry about that.”
The Jazz came out of the gates on fire and went on a frantic 17-2 run to open the contest. H20 didn’t register a field goal in the opening frame, but he recorded a perfectly timed highlight-reel block on a Jordon Clarkson layup attempt to keep it a 19-9 game with 4:47 left in the first.
After one the Jazz led 34-16, and they didn’t let up. The second quarter was more of the same and Utah went into the half up by 27 thanks to an incredible display from Rodney Hood, who already tallied all of his game-high 30 points and 11 three-pointers by halftime.
Hood drained eight of nine treys in the first half, including four triples in a four-minute stretch before halftime.
“I got a couple of clean looks and from there I just kept on shooting,’’ Hood said. “The hoop looked really big.”
After the break, Gordon staked his claim on the Hood-dominant highlight reel. Early in the frame, he blew by Julius Randle and tossed a brilliant assist between the second-year player and center Roy Hibbert. The pass found Rudy Gobert in stride, and the big man slammed it home with authority.
Moments later, he made another jaw-dropping play on tough driving left-handed driving slam over Hibbert, who couldn’t do anything to stop G-Time as he flew to the rim, drawing contact in the process. The posterizing dunk coupled with the freebie put the Jazz up 77-47 with 6:32 left in the quarter.
On the ensuing possession, G-Time knocked down his first and only trifecta of the game to give Utah a commanding 80-47 advantage. With just over three minutes left in the quarter, Gordon was involved in another big slam. This time, he fed Trevor Booker in transition for a rim rocker that put Utah up 40, 89-49. Gordon then buried a long two with 0.1 left on the clock in the third, to keep that 40-point lead, 98-58, going into the final period.
“I thought a lot of guys did a good job tonight,” Quin Snyder said. “When we got stops we were able to get out and run. That makes the game easier. I thought Gordon came out in the third quarter and after being in some foul trouble…I thought Gordon got aggressive offensively.”
The rout continued in the fourth. With the reserves in and most of the starters on the bench, the Jazz still managed to outscore the Lakers 25-17 in the quarter en route to the lopsided victory. Utah pushed the lead to as many as 52 points with seven minutes left in regulation.
The 48-point gap at the end of regulation tied two franchise records: Utah’s for the biggest win, and L.A.’s for the largest defeat.
After handling one of the NBA’s cellar-dwellers, the Jazz (37-37) will prepare to face one of the NBA’s best on Wednesday night when the Golden State Warriors (66-7) come to town.
Hayward and the Jazz haven’t been able to crack Golden State yet this season and have dropped all three games to the defending champs. The Warriors have a home game tonight against the Washington Wizards, so they will be on the second-leg of a back-to-back for Wednesday’s showdown.
Utah was nearly the first team to beat the Warriors when the last were in Salt Lake City on Nov. 30. Gordon had 24 points but the Jazz fell 106-103.
The game is slated to tip off at 7 p.m. MST from Vivint Smart Home Arena and will be aired on ROOT.
WESTERN CONFERENCE STANDINGS – 3/29
1. y – Golden State Warriors (66-7)
2. y – San Antonio Spurs (62-12) 4.5 GB
3. y – Oklahoma City Thunder (52-22) 14.5 GB
4. x – Los Angeles Clippers (46-27) 20 GB
5. Memphis Grizzlies (41-33) 25.5 GB
6. Portland Trail Blazers (39-36) 28 GB
7. Utah Jazz (37-37) 29.5 GB
8. Houston Rockets (36-38) 30.5 GB
y – Clinched division
x – Clinched playoff berth
- Game Book: Lakers at Jazz (NBA, Mar. 28, 2016)
- Jazz hand Kobe worst loss ever (AP, Mar. 28, 2016)
- Hood’s huge night spoils Kobe’s final Utah appearance (Deseret News, Mar. 28, 2016)
- Rodney Hood’s huge half sparks record night in Salt Lake City (SLC Dunk, Mar. 28, 2016)
- Jazz crush Lakers in Kobe’s last game in Salt Lake City (Salt Lake Tribune, Mar. 28, 2016)