LOS ANGELES — On Tuesday, Tyrone Corbin admitted he’s not one to overlook the Los Angeles Lakers this season.
“We say they’re down, they’re hurting a little bit with Kobe being out,” Corbin said. “But you put Kobe back in the mix with the personnel on this team and I wouldn’t count them out, and I would never count Kobe out.”
By the way, Corbin said that hours before the Lakers overcame a 12-point Jazz lead in the first half and earned a 108-94 victory over the visiting team in town from Utah.
Utah (1-5) had another rough shooting night — 39.8 percent from the field and 61.5 percent at the free-throw line — while dropping a fifth preseason game in a row.
"I thought the execution was good on the offensive end," Corbin said. "Once we started subbing, that kind of went down a little bit. We've got to get that fixed. ... There was some good things from the game. We’re pleased with the way we executed on the offensive end."
Former Lakers center Brian Cook was one of those good things. The 6-foot-9 power forard had his best game of the preseason by far, leading Utah with 18 points in his old stomping grounds. Cook, whose previous exhibition-high was five points, is trying to snag one of the Jazz’s two open roster spots.
"It’s good just being here, being around family, being around friends. It was a great feeling," Cook said. "It was good to just have a good game. We’ll see what happens (with making the Jazz). I’m just trying to stay even-keeled right now and just show that I can still play at 32."
Gordon Hayward had 15 points on 5-for-15 shooting. The 6-foot-8 wing player, who started at shooting guard, also had four rebounds, four assists, four steals and four turnovers.
Four other Jazz players hit double figures, including 14 points for reserve shooting guard Alec Burks and 10 apiece from starters Richard Jefferson, Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter. Favors had a game-high 13 rebounds.
Jordan Farmar scored 20 points off the bench for L.A. and had a big second half, including consecutive fourth-quarter 3-pointers after Utah pulled within two points.
Jodie Meeks (15 points) and Wesley Johnson (14 points) sparked the Lakers, who improved to 3-4 in exhibition play after losing twice to the Warriors in China last week.
Utah led 26-18 after the first quarter, following a 9-0 start. After hitting 55.6 percent in that opening quarter, the Jazz only scored 19 points on 28.6 percent shooting in the pivotal second quarter.
"We had open shots, we just missed them," Burks said. "They'll fall. It's just preseason. They'll fall. We're not worrying about it. We got good shooters on the team. They'll fall."
L.A. continues to play without Bryant, who had Achilles tendon surgery last spring.
“If he gets healthy and comes back, he can make plays with two or three or four guys on (him),” Corbin said. “Exhibition’s a little deceiving because of where they are without him on the floor, but they have some talent on this team.”
Corbin again went with a starting lineup of John Lucas III, Hayward, Jefferson, Favors and Kanter. Those four all played at least 20 minutes, with Hayward logging 32. Earlier Tuesday, the Jazz coach said he anticipated giving probable regulars longer stretches together as the preseason wraps up this week.
“We still have some practice days next week. We still want to make sure these guys are growing together,” Corbin said. “This is a young group, so we’re trying to put all of the pieces together and get a feel for it before we go into the regular season.”
The Jazz have one week before that Oct. 30 season-opener at home against Oklahoma City.
Utah continues its three-game L.A. excursion with a game tonight against the Clippers at Staples Center. The Jazz and Lakers wrap up the preseason Friday in Anaheim.
The win snapped a three-game losing skid for the Lakers.
"Well, I think every coach right now is confident," Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said. "I'm sure Custer was confident before he went to Little Bighorn, too. He was hoopin' and hollerin' and probably as happy as heck, so that's how we are right now. Talk to me in December and we'll have a more serious discussion."
Corbin might have a different discussion about his team at that point, too.
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