LOS ANGELES (AP)—Phil Jackson wanted a timeout, and tried to inform his players. Fortunately, Devean George didn’t hear his coach.
George connected after the Jazz, who trailed by 21 points in the third quarter, went ahead for the second time in the last minute on a jumper by Mo Williams.
“That was Rob—call me Rob, a young Rob,” George said, referring to former teammate Robert Horry, known for his last-second heroics.
George hoisted his game-winner from the right corner—not far from the Lakers’ bench. But with the crowd screaming, he didn’t hear Jackson’s plea.
“I didn’t see what I wanted to have happen on that last play,” Jackson said in explaining why he wanted to call time. “At least I didn’t think it was going to happen.
“I told him, `Call timeout,’ but he didn’t hear me. The shot went in anyway. So it was a good timeout that I called.”
O’Neal had 19 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists and Kobe Bryant also had 19 points for the Lakers although he shot just 4-of-17. George added 16 points and Slava Medvedenko and Gary Payton each scored 15.
“We relaxed,” George said. “They fought back from 20 down—they just kept playing. It’s real tough to regain momentum.”
Williams scored 12 of his career-high 16 points in the fourth quarter. DeShawn Stevenson added 13 points and Sasha Pavlovic scored 12 for the Jazz.
Utah coach Jerry Sloan played five reserves throughout the final period including three rookies—Williams, Pavlovic and Ben Handlogten.
The trio combined for 26 points in the fourth quarter as the Jazz outscored the Lakers 32-20.
It wasn’t quite enough.
“They got us back in the ballgame a little bit,” Sloan said of his reserves. “It’s sad we couldn’t get our guys to play hard for three quarters. We were basically afraid of them.”
Until the final period, anyway.
Malone, the NBA’s second-leading career scorer, has missed only 11 games in his 19-year career—six due to injuries or illness and five because of suspensions.
The win was the ninth straight for the Lakers and their 26th consecutive regular-season victory at home including 11 this season.
But it certainly didn’t come easy.
The loss was just the fourth in 11 games for Utah (11-8), which fell to 1-7 on the road.
Pavlovic made two free throws with 7:52 remaining to cap a 10-2 run, cutting the Lakers’ lead to 78-73.
The Lakers extended their lead to nine points, but again the Jazz battled back, and a tip-in by Handlogten with 55.3 seconds left capped a 7-0 run and gave the Jazz a 90-89 lead.
O’Neal made two free throws, but Williams made a jumper with 36.5 seconds remaining to put the Jazz back on top. George followed that up with his game-winner.
A 3-pointer by George and a jumper by Medvedenko extended the Lakers’ lead to 61-40 with 7:06 left in the third quarter.
At that point, the Jazz began creeping back into contention, and it was 74-60 entering the final period.
Payton made three baskets and assisted on two dunks by O’Neal as the Lakers outscored the Jazz 12-1 to finish the second quarter for a 47-32 halftimelead.
Malone is scheduled to face the Jazz for the first time Jan. 24 in Salt Lake City. He spent 18 seasons with Utah before joining the Lakers as a free agent last summer. … O’Neal and Payton both wore Malone’s No. 11 jersey during the playing of the national anthem. … Jackson made his feelings clear on Malone’s suspension. “Karl’s played a zillion games. Anybody who’s watched him play knows he’s going to protect the basketball,” Jackson said. “Karl said it right—if he wanted to really get (Nash), he would have really gotten him. It wasn’t an elbowing foul, he didn’t throw the elbow. He protected.” … The Lakers are the only NBA team with an unbeaten record at home. Utah is 10-1 at the Delta Center. … Carlos Arroyo, Utah’s third-leading scorer, missed hissixth game due to a sprained left ankle.