NBA • Jefferson, Favors return from injuries.
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Los Angeles • Yes, the stars were out Sunday night in L.A.
But the absences of Pau Gasol and Steve Nash did nothing to numb the satisfaction of the Utah Jazz's 117-110 win over the Lakers Sunday night at Staples Center.
Jack Nicholson and the non-basketball stars could only watch in dismay as the Jazz won their fourth road game of the season, behind inspired efforts off the bench by Enes Kanter, Gordon Hayward and DeMarre Carroll.
Paul Millsap led the Jazz with 24 points, but it was the bench unit that pushed the Jazz ahead in the second quarter and, largely, the same group that extended the Jazz's lead back to double-digits in the fourth.
With Derrick Favors pulled from the lineup minutes before gametime, Kanter turned his second strong performance in a row, scoring 14 points in 17 minutes. Favors missed his fifth straight game with plantar fasciitis in his right foot, despite the Jazz saying an hour before the game that he would play. After practicing without pain on Saturday, the Jazz expected their third-year forward to play against the Lakers, but his injury flared up during pregame warm-ups and he was held out.
Al Jefferson returned to action after missing Friday's 131-99 win over Toronto with back spasms.
The Jazz overcame a 34-point performance by Kobe Bryant, four nights removed from reaching the 30,000 points benchmark. However, Bryant missed a 3-pointer with 35 seconds remaining that would have cut the Jazz lead to two. Instead, on the other, Jodie Meeks was forced to foul Mo Williams, who made two free throws to put the game out of reach.
Williams scored 22 points for the Jazz and tallied 9 assists, continuing his balanced play since missing three games with a foot injury.
The Jazz have now beaten the Lakers twice in the young season, including a 95-86 victory on Nov. 7 at EnergySolutions Arena.
An 11-0 run gave the Jazz a 52-40 lead in the second quarter and the Jazz led 60-51 at halftime. The Lakers made several runs at the Jazz in the third, cutting the lead to two on five separate occasions, and got as close as 79-78.
However, the Jazz exploded at the start of the fourth behind its second unit, including 6 quick points from Kanter and led 108-93 after Millsap jump shot.
The Jazz had won on the road before this season - snapping their road bugaboo with victories in Toronto, New Orleans and Washington. But those are where visiting NBA teams go to thrive.
Beating the Lakers in Los Angeles marked the Jazz's first road victory over a bona fide opponent, although the Lakers are quickly fading from that category.
The Jazz have now won three games in a row, with five of their next seven games on the road.
Sunday was maybe the first time all season the Jazz got consistently strong efforts from their starters and their bench. The Jazz bench scored 43 points and never gave in entirely to a run. The starter, too, were solid. Even Marvin Williams, who was limited to 7 points, was an efficient 3-of-4. Randy Foye, who also scored 7, hit a timely 3-pointer in the third quarter to put the Jazz up 82-78 and prevent the Lakers from having a chance to take the lead.
Jazz 117, Lakers 110
• Paul Millsap leads the Jazz with 24 points and nine rebounds while Al Jefferson turns in another double-double, finishing with 14 and 10.
• Kobe Bryant leads all scorers with 34 points.
• The Jazz next play San Antonio on Wednesday in a nationally televised game..