SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – All good things must come to an end, as for Jazz fans, their team’s 7-game win streak was definitely a good thing.
But the Jazz were eventually due for a letdown game, and Sunday night against the lowly L.A. Lakers, that’s just what happened.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 32 points, while JaVale McGee added 22, as the Lakers handed the Jazz their first loss since March 21st, 113-109.
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.
The Jazz are now almost assuredly a lock for the 5-seed, as they are two games behind Portland for the 4-seed, and two games ahead of Oklahoma City for the 6-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.”
The Jazz were without Ricky Rubio (quad), Derrick Favors (back), Kyle Korver (knee) and Raul Neto (quad).
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, but just 5 in the second half.
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.
The Jazz next play their regular season home finale Tuesday night against Denver at 7:00 p.m.