A sneak-peak at tomorrow’s game story tonight …
SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Jazz center Al Jefferson had the ball and the game in his hands with the final seconds ticking down in overtime Wednesday night in front of a raucous crowd at EnergySolutions Arena.
Then, suddenly, he didn’t.
Lakers center Andrew Bynum reached up and swatted away what could have been the game-winning layup in the closing seconds. The ball ended up in the eager hands of teammate Kobe Bryant, who was fouled with 0.7 seconds remaining.
Bryant sank two free throws at the other end of the court for the last of his team-leading 40 points in a nerve-jangling 90-87 victory for the Lakers over the Jazz, their first on the road in four tries and their fourth consecutive overall.
“I liked our perseverance,” Lakers coach Mike Brown said. “We found a way.”
When it seemed the Jazz might roll over the Lakers to start the 5-minute extra period and it looked as if a Bryant’s one-on-one play might prove costly instead of beneficial, things went in a very different direction in crunch time.
Bynum’s block was one of several monster plays.
Bryant made a 3-pointer after Paul Millsap gave Utah an 82-78 lead to start overtime with a breakaway layup and then a jump shot. Millsap seemed poised to simply bulldoze his way through the Lakers in overtime, but it never happened.
“He’s an athletic shooting guard in a power forward’s body,” Brown said of Millsap, who is listed at 6-foot-8 and 253 pounds. “I don’t know how you defend him. You try to stay in front of him and you hope he’ll miss. He’s unbelievable.”
Lakers power forward Pau Gasol sank a 3-pointer after Bryant drove into traffic and found him alone in the left corner. Gasol’s first 3 in his fifth attempt of the season gave the Lakers the lead for good at 86-85 with 2 minutes, 2 seconds remaining.