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Lakers fans pack Stan Sheriff Center, but Jazz win, 90-71

The Los Angeles Lakers play the Utah Jazz in 2015 NBA preseason basketball at the Stan Sheriff Center, Honolulu, HI on October 04 2015. Photo: Brandon Flores.

Those who maintain that Hawai’i “is not a basketball state” may have been surprised by the passionate, energetic scene at the sold-out Stan Sheriff Center late Sunday afternoon.

A mostly purple-and-gold clad crowd of 10,300 watched the Utah Jazz pull away from the Los Angeles Lakers, 90-71, in the NBA preseason opener for both teams. But the partisan majority of Lakers fans — who cheered especially loud for future Hall of Fame guard Kobe Bryant — did not seem to care about the final score and several hundred waited patiently and enthusiastically outside the arena’s security entrance for up to an hour after the game ended, just hoping to catch a glimpse of Bryant and other L.A. players exiting the door.

“There was a lot of energy,” Bryant told reporters after the game, when asked about the atmosphere.

Bryant, in his 20th and final NBA season, saw his first live action since undergoing surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff in his right (shooting) shoulder in late January. To the fans’ delight, he announced himself ready to play Saturday and was in the starting lineup Sunday. Bryant played the entire first period but struggled from the field, making only one of five shots, a 3-pointer to cut the Utah lead to 16-14 with 4:26 remaining.

He bookended that with single free throws following defensive 3-second violations called against the Jazz.

Bryant said the repaired shoulder “feels strong” and that his game legs are starting to return.

“It felt good to get out there,” he said.

Lakers coach Byron Scott said the plan was to get Bryant all of his minutes in the first period and then have him rest for the game’s remainder.

“I thought it’d be better than having him play six minutes, take him out, and then put him back in later when he’s cold,” Scott said.

The Lakers, who trailed 14-6 midway through the first period, closed it to 18-16 entering the second and used a 15-5 run to lead, 31-23, after Brandon Bass’ three-point play with 4:43 left in the half. Rudy Gobert then capped a 7-0 Utah run by converting one of two free throws to close it to 31-30 with 2:29 remaining, but the Lakers ended the half with a 7-2 surge and took a 38-33 lead into the locker room as Nick Young drained a 25-footer with 1.1 seconds left.

The Los Angeles Lakers play the Utah Jazz in 2015 NBA preseason basketball at the Stan Sheriff Center, Honolulu, HI on October 04 2015. Photo: Brandon Flores.

Los Angeles opened the second half with a 10-2 run capped by Jordan Clarkson’s three-point play to make it 48-35 three minutes into the third period, but the Jazz answered with a 15-2 spurt culminating in Gordon Haywood’s putback to tie it at 50-50 with 4:46 remaining. The Lakers took the lead back on rookie D’Angelo Russell’s 3-pointer 43 seconds later and went up, 57-52, on Julius Randle’s putback at the 2:03 mark.

But the fourth period was all Utah’s, as Trevor Booker opened it with a steal and fast-break slam dunk to start the Jazz on an 11-1 run capped by Tibor Pleiss’ two free throws to make it 68-60 with 8:25 left. Los Angeles could not get closer than five points thereafter, and Utah ended the game with an emphatic 15-2 surge.

“The second half went well … we got to the rim and got to the foul line, and I like it when the other team has to guard us,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “We were good with that in the second half.”

Derrick Favors led Utah with 16 points, Hayward added 11 points and Gobert and Trey Burke each chipped in with 10 points. Lou Williams, acquired from Toronto after being named NBA Sixth Man of the Year last season, led the Lakers with 14 points off the bench.

Young added 10 points, also off the bench. Russell, the second overall pick in June’s draft, was in the starting lineup and finished with five points, three assists and one steal in 21 minutes.

The teams will meet again at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Stan Sheriff Center.

(Photos courtesy Brandon Flores / www.brandonfloresphotography.com)

CLICK HERE to view more photos from the game

6 Comments

  1. Too bad Hawaii is not in the running for a franchise. Maybe the arena is not big enough. Plus you gotta have deep pockets to finance one. Any billionaires? But we do have a fan base. Wonder if it was the Lakers that brought out the crowd? I think it had a little to do with it but not a lot because they don’t have much in the way of talent with the exception of an aging Bryant. The other draw is merely the hunger for pro sports as we don’t have any. That’s the price you pay for paradise.

  2. October 15, 2015 the day of reckoning with the NCAA. Need to have closure so the cloud of this so called scandal and be blown away and clear skies can be navigated to bring greater success to the program. Do hope Ganot will elevate the program to another higher level.

  3. Call the Coach tomorrow at 6 pm, ESPN 1420 .

  4. Face-to-Face MEET The Coach…

    LaSalle (PAGODA) 6 pm…Tuesday
    (SCC is ‘Sold Out’ Anyway…)

    OR

    GO Ahead… CALL IN and ASK ‘Bout BIGS…

    (808) 296-1420….

  5. Sorry to take another doubt away, Uhf1, but Eran said he’s going to push the tempo. We’ll see how it plays out.

  6. Shot clock down to 30 seconds from 35.
    Some might think this favors the up tempo game and quick guards.

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