Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Caldwell-Pope, Lakers snap Utah's 7-game winning streak

USA. Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James, left, congratulates guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope during a time-out in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Utah Jazz, Sunday, April 7, in Los Angeles. The Lakers won 113-109. (AP)

LOS ANGELES-- Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and the Los Angeles Lakers have been out of playoff contention for the past month. They're still playing a role in shaping the Western Conference bracket.

Caldwell-Pope scored 32 points Sunday night as the short-handed Lakers snapped Utah's seven-game winning streak with a 113-109 victory over the Jazz.

The Lakers, beset by injuries all season, dressed only 10 players and played eight. And of those eight, only Caldwell-Pope and JaVale McGee played in the club's opener.

"I'm sure when you're a team that is looking down the roster and looking who is playing for us, naturally you would let down a little bit. That's part of why this is fun," coach Luke Walton said. "It's the type of win where we needed everyone and everyone stepped up."

It was a big loss for the Jazz, who fell two games behind Portland for the fourth seed in the Western Conference and home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

Utah would need to win its remaining two games and the Trail Blazers would have to drop their last two for the Jazz to get the fourth seed. The teams would be tied with 51-31 records, but Utah would win the tiebreaker based on a better record in the Northwest Division.

On Friday night, the Lakers dealt the Clippers a five-point loss that put a dent in their hopes of getting anything higher than the sixth seed.

Jazz coach Quin Snyder said a lack of urgency ended up costing his team.

"Regardless of where you're seeded, you have to play well and play a certain way to win," he said. "We've won some games, so sometimes that masks some things we weren't doing well. Everyone has been talking about the winning streak, but that doesn't mean anything."

Caldwell-Pope scored 18 points during the fourth quarter as Los Angeles rallied for its second consecutive win and sixth in nine games. McGee added 22 points and Alex Caruso had 18 points and 11 assists.

Caldwell-Pope credited the big final quarter to being able to hit shots coming off ball screens.

"I wish I was playing like this to start the season, but now we just want to finish strong and play free," he said.

Rudy Gobert led Utah with 21 points and 10 rebounds, and Donovan Mitchell scored 19.

Utah, which was up 10 in the third quarter, led 85-81 early in the fourth when the Lakers scored eight straight points to take the lead. The run included 3-pointers by Mike Muscala and Caldwell-Pope.

Los Angeles extended its advantage to 106-97 with 1:57 remaining on a layup by Caldwell-Pope. The Jazz made a late run to get to 110-107 before McGee's alley-oop put the Lakers up by more than one possession. (AP)


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