LOS ANGELES (AP)—Raja Bell contributed very little during the first three quarters Monday night, playing nine minutes and scoring two points.
In the final period, he took over the game.
Bell shot 6-of-9 for 14 points in the fourth quarter, when reserves scored 28 of Utah’s 34 points, and the Jazz beat the Los Angeles Lakers 102-94 for just their fourth win in 18 games.
“He came in strong. That’s hard to do, when you’re sitting on the bench,” said Matt Harpring, who led the Jazz with 19 points, seven rebounds and six assists.
Bell capped his performance by making a 3-pointer from the left corner with 33.8 seconds remaining to give the Jazz a 98-92 lead.
“We did some work against the zone in practice yesterday and in the shootaround today,” Bell said. “I found myself open—a lot. The point guards were finding me, the big men were finding me. We’re showing signs of learning from our mistakes.”
But Bell was the story of the game.
“They figured out ways to score on our zone (defense), and Raja just kind of sat in that corner all night and fired away,” Lakers center Chris Mihm said.
“He was terrific,” Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. “He moved well, he passed the ball well, he caught it and shot. He was on a roll and he got the kind of shots that he can make.”
The Jazz hope they’ve played their final game without All-Star Andrei Kirilenko. It appears they’ll get him back Saturday night, when they return to action against Memphis.
Kirilenko has missed 26 games since spraining a right knee ligament Nov. 27 against San Antonio. The Jazz are 6-20 without him, but have won three of their last five games, beating San Antonio, Phoenix and the Lakers.
“Going into it, we didn’t think we were going to lose this many games,” Boozer said. “We have missed him. He’s all over the court—he’s energetic, he blocks shots, he steals, he scores, he plays defense.
“Watch out! We’re going to have a big turnaround.”
There’s also a possibility Jarron Collins will return Saturday night. He’s been sidelined with a sprained ligament in his right knee.
While the Jazz were getting a rare victory, the Lakers were missing another opportunity for a season-high three-game winning streak. They have won consecutive games eight times, but failed in each of those situations to win a third straight.
“If you told me we weren’t going to win three in a row, I’d tell you we’d be in the bottom of the barrel in the NBA,” said Lamar Odom, who was held to 10 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. “Winning two games at a time and still be in the hunt, I would definitely laugh at you. But the point is, we’re right there. If the playoffs started today, we’d be sixth.”
The Lakers played their second game without star Kobe Bryant, who sustained a severely sprained right ankle in the first quarter of a 98-94 victory over Cleveland last Thursday night.
Team spokesman John Black said before the game that Bryant will be sidelined at least two more weeks, with no target date set for his return.
Rookie Sasha Vujacic started in Bryant’s place for the second straight game and scored seven points in a career-high 28 minutes.
Howard Eisley scored five points during a 12-2 run that gave the Jazz an 86-80 lead with 4:41 remaining. Brown made a 3-pointer, but Bell’s basket on a goaltending call against Cook made it 88-83 with 3 1/2 minutes left.
The Lakers drew within two points before Bell made a baseline jumper. Atkins made two free throws, but Raul Lopez made a 3-pointer with 1:35 left to give the Jazz a five-point lead.
The Lakers drew within three before Bell made his big 3-pointer to clinch the victory.
Butler scored nine points and Mihm added seven during a 22-11 run that gave the Lakers a 69-66 lead, and it was 69-68 entering the final period.
The Lakers are the only NBA team with a winning record that hasn’t had a three-game winning streak this season. The others teams without a three-game winning streak are Portland, New Jersey, Charlotte, Atlanta and New Orleans. … The game was the first of nine straight for the Lakers at Staples Center, including a designated road game against the Clippers on Jan. 26. … The Jazz snapped a seven-game losing streak at Staples Center. … Lakers F Luke Walton didn’t dress because of an upper respiratory infection.