Another loss for the struggling Lakers

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Another loss for the struggling Lakers

From Comcast SportsNetSALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Before their game Wednesday, Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike Brown remarked how easily Kobe Bryant had been scoring and in so many different ways.Against Utah, with four or five players taking turns guarding Bryant, nothing came easy as the Jazz pulled off a 95-86 victory to drop the Lakers to 1-4."It's tough for anyone to stop him one-on-one," Jazz guard Randy Foye said. "I have to give a lot of credit to my teammates. Me, Gordon (Hayward), Marvin (Williams), Mo (Williams), Alec (Burks). All of us. It worked well, but I'm lucky the game finished when it did because any longer and he was starting to get it going."Bryant led all scorers with 29 points, 16 in the fourth quarter. But he shot just 7 of 17 overall after entering the game shooting nearly 60 percent. He also was 0 of 4 from 3-point range, and was only 3 of 10 after three quarters.While the Jazz were limiting the Lakers to 34 percent shooting, Al Jefferson and free-agent acquisition Foye provided a 1-2 punch.Jefferson scored 18 points and Foye added 17 off the bench on five 3-pointers, including three straight in the fourth quarter."Oh man, I was feeling it," said Foye, who finished 5 of 9 from beyond the arc and made all of Utah's 3s. "I was just trying to go out there and be aggressive. I've got to give a lot of credit to my teammates. My teammates found me at the right spots and I just knocked down shots."Foye said the Lakers shouldn't have been surprised that he was a dangerous 3-point shooter."They know me," he said. "Last year I played for the Clippers and had big games against them. They knew. But it was either Big Al with the layup or I get a 3."The Jazz led by as many as 16 points early, but the Lakers were within five with 8:27 left before Foye hit three straight 3-pointers to give Utah a 79-68 lead with 6:40 remaining.Jefferson scored on back-to-back baskets for Utah as the Jazz boosted their lead to 13.Bryant's 16-point fourth helped Los Angeles get within five, but his dunk with 12.5 seconds left was too little, too late."We're all frustrated," Brown said. "I'm very frustrated too for the simple fact that I just don't think we played the game like we talked about going in. We wanted to be the ones to hit first ... but we didn't."Utah, which beat Dallas in the opener only to lose three straight on the road, started fast and finished strong.Utah held a 44-36 advantage in points in the paint and a 15-7 edge on the fast break.The Jazz also forced 19 Lakers turnovers, including six by Bryant and five by Dwight Howard."A lot of it just comes from reading each other, getting in sync with each other," said Bryant, who was playing his 79th career game against the Jazz but only fifth with new teammate Howard.Howard (19 points, nine rebounds) said the Lakers' intensity was low.Everyone acknowledged Utah is a different team at home.The Jazz led by seven early as Mo Williams and Hayward started fast. Hayward left Bryant on the floor after stealing the ball from him at one end and dunking at the other for a 9-2 Utah lead.The Lakers pulled within 19-17 on Pau Gasol's jam off a pass from Bryant. But Utah closed on a 6-0 run to take a 25-17 lead, with a pair of baskets from Derrick Favors and a 17-foot jumper from big man Enes Kanter.Utah's reserves kept things rolling in the second quarter, with Favors and Kanter dominating inside at both ends. Kanter shut down Howard on back-to-back possessions, and had a dunk and three-point play. Foye's 3-pointer pushed Utah's lead to 35-21 with 9:11 left in the half and his free throws put the Jazz up 43-27.Mo Williams kept the pressure on offensively with 14 points in the first half on 7-of-10 shooting, taking advantage of Steve Nash's continued absence. He finished with 16 points on 8 of 13 shooting.Hayward was just 2 of 11 overall, but had a pair of steals and three blocks, none bigger than his swat of Metta World Peace shortly before the break.Utah finished with seven blocked shots, including two by Burks, who showed he wasn't afraid to play Bryant tight.Bryant took only one shot in the first quarter and was 1 of 4 at halftime. At one point, Los Angeles was shooting just 25 percent.In the third, Bryant had a chance to cut Utah's lead to two but was blocked by Favors, leaving Bryant screaming for the foul. He didn't get it, but Marvin Williams converted a three-point play at the other end six seconds later to push Utah's lead back to 63-56.Kanter's slam gave Utah a 65-57 lead going into the fourth."It's definitely sweet," said Mo Williams, who added seven assists. "But it was all about us fighting. We needed to get this one."Notes: The Jazz went 3 12 minutes without scoring in the third as they shot just 26 percent in the quarter. Utah held a 44-36 advantage in points in the paint and a 15-7 edge on the fast break. ... The Lakers finished with a huge advantage at the free throw line, but made just 32 of 46. ... Jordan Hill grabbed a season-high 12 rebounds for the Lakers.

WATCH: Celtics vs. Hornets

WATCH: Celtics vs. Hornets

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Celtics-Hornets preview: Boston, Charlotte heading in opposite directions

Celtics-Hornets preview: Boston, Charlotte heading in opposite directions

BOSTON -- The last time Boston saw the Charlotte Hornets last month, both teams were streaking in the wrong direction with each coming in having lost three in a row.

Both come into tonight’s game streaking, although in two very different directions.

Boston (25-15) has won 12 of its last 15 games to firmly establish itself as the third-best team in the East behind Cleveland and Toronto. Meanwhile the Hornets (20-20) are on the cusp of falling below .500 for the first time this season after losing their last four games.

Still, Celtics coach Brad Stevens has seen enough of this Hornets team to know that a win tonight won’t come easily.

“This is a good team,” Stevens said. “We all know Charlotte. They don’t beat themselves. We’ve had to play really well against those guys. This is going to be a tough one, as we all know.”

Figuring out why these two teams are trending in opposite directions isn’t all that complicated.

For the Celtics, their success of late has hinged heavily on their ability to make 3-pointers. Meanwhile, Charlotte’s problems have had a lot to do with a tough slate of road games (all four of their recent losses were on the road) and their inability to make shots which has been an issue in some form for them all season regardless of the opponent.

Look at the last four games, all of which the Hornets lost while the Celtics won three of their four games in that span.

The Hornets rank 21st in scoring with a 101.5 points per game average while the Celtics average 110.8 points which ranks 8th in the league.

Charlotte ranks dead-last in the league the last four games when it comes to shooting the ball (40.5 percent), while Boston comes in 18th at 46.0 percent.

But it’s the 3-point shot and its impact on having an effective field goal percentage, that really separates these two.

Boston has averaged a league-best 15.3 made 3-pointers in the last four games while the Hornets and their 9.8 made 3’s ranks 20th.

And as far as its impact on eFG%, Boston comes in with the eighth-best eFG% in the league (54.8 percent) while the Hornets next-to-last in the NBA with an eFG% of .462.

So what does that mean tonight?

Boston will look to continue being fueled offensively by good ball movement and attacking the rim which in turn should result in lots of good looks from 3-point range which is clearly a strength of this team.

Charlotte will search for other sources of offense besides former UConn star Kemba Walker who is on the short list of candidates for a spot on this year’s Eastern Conference all-star roster.

As was the case in Charlotte’s 102-93 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday, an off-night shooting for Walker (17 points, 7-for-23 shooting with three assists) left the Hornets extremely vulnerable to defeat. Similar struggles tonight will provide a similar ending for Charlotte which would allow both teams to continue streaking along … something the Celtics wouldn’t mind at all.