SALT LAKE CITY (AP)—With some time to rest approaching, Deron Williams was determined to leave all his energy on the court.
The Jazz star point guard didn’t make the All-Star team, so he’ll get a few days to rest as the league takes a break to party in Phoenix this weekend.
In his final performance before the break, Williams helped the Jazz overcome a 37-point effort by Kobe Bryant.
“It was a big game for us. We battled hard all night on both ends of the floor. We knew Kobe was going to hit some shots but we just kept fighting and we executed at the end there,” Williams said.
“It was a playoff type of game, very physical. Especially in the last four minutes or so nothing was going to be easy,” Okur said.
Lamar Odom had 19 points and 19 rebounds, but the Lakers allowed the Jazz to shoot a season-high 58.6 percent.
“We just didn’t play well defensively. We didn’t play hard enough on defense. We played lazy. They got a lot of points in the paint and some of that may be tired legs,” Bryant said.
The Jazz didn’t score from the field and made 2-for-8 from the line in a nearly four-minute stretch in the fourth quarter to give the Lakers a last gasp.
“Missing those free throws looked like it was going to be our Achilles’ heel,” Utah coach Jerry Sloan said.
Odom and Bryant combined for 10 points and Bryant’s 3-pointer gave the Lakers their first lead of the fourth quarter, 105-104, at the 1:36 mark.
Sandwiched around Bryant’s steal and layup, Paul Millsap made a three-point play for Utah and Okur hit a three-pointer to put Utah up, 110-107.
Williams made 3-of-6 free throws in the last 25 seconds while Derek Fisher missed two 3-point attempts and Bryant misfired once to clinch the Jazz win.
The Lakers closed the gap to 91-90, but Brewer sparked the Jazz with a series of scintillating plays. His reverse dunk started a 10-2 run that featured a steal, a block and another dunk over Bryant to give Utah a 101-92 lead with 5:59 to play. But Brewer missed four consecutive foul shots to open the door for L.A.
Williams has averaged 31 points in his last five games and is showing that he is finally healthy after missing 13 of Utah’s first 15 games with a sprained ankle and later suffering from swelling in the knee.
“The last few games, you can see how healthy Deron is and how hungry he is. He’s so aggressive going to the basket and he sets us all up so well. He makes a us a good team when he plays like that,” Miles said.
He made 12-of-17 shots and his 11th assist was a Okur’s 3-pointer with 42.8 seconds left.
“Deron is better than I thought he was, which is saying a lot. He’s one of the best in the world. I got to see every day how great he really is,” Bryant said of their time together last summer on the U.S. Olympic team.
After Williams drove the lane for a basket in the third quarter, Bryant switched to guard the Utah point guard. But Williams promptly drove past him for a layup and a foul. On the next possession, Williams got Bryant going backward and then hit a pull-up jumper. Utah led 80-73 with 2:55 left in the period.
The Jazz often double-teamed Bryant and eliminated any easy drives to the basket. Gambling to leave his teammates open on the perimeter paid off for Utah as Los Angeles went 5-of-19 from beyond the arc.
Neither team led by more than nine points and the Lakers, though they boast best road record (18-6) in the NBA, seemed tired at times in playing seventh away from home in eight games.
The Jazz shot 62.5 percent over the first two periods and still trailed 63-61 at the half.
“This was a great chance to show the league we can still play with the best, despite all our injuries,” Miles said.
Bryant got a technical foul from official John Goble midway through the third quarter. Bryant felt he was fouled while shooting an air ball under heavy pressure. … Jazz G Brevin Knight missed his second game with a left quadriceps contusion but the Jazz may get Andrei Kirilenko (ankle) and Carlos Boozer (knee) back in action after the All-Star break.