SALT LAKE CITY — You could see this coming as soon as the schedule was released.
The Lakers and Kobe Bryant (37 points) did make it more interesting than it could’ve been before falling in the frantic final minutes. But Mehmet Okur’s 3-pointer over Pau Gasol with 42.8 seconds left broke a 107-107 tie forged by Bryant’s steal and layup.
The Lakers were predictably fighting fatigue in this loss that snapped a seven-game winning streak. They came home from a six-game trip and then had just one day idle before having to deal with this back-to-back set vs. Oklahoma City and at Utah. Throw in the distraction of a pending vacation from the All-Star break after this, Utah’s stellar home-court advantage and Utah’s obvious motivation from being ousted from the playoffs by the Lakers last season and the odds were stacked against the Lakers.
They weren’t quite able to overcome.
Deron Williams (31 points, 11 assists) was a beast for Utah, which played without injured Carlos Boozer and Andrei Kirilenko. But after a Williams missed foul shot, Bryant rebounded with the Lakers down, 112-109. He was fenced in by Utah’s defense at the arc and couldn’t let go a shot. Derek Fisher wound up getting two contested shots at the tie but missed both.