Lakers vs Utah: Lakers defeat Jazz, move closer to Spurs
The Lakers defeated the Utah Jazz.
That wasn't the biggest news.
The important development was that the victory pulled the Lakers to within 1 1/2 games of the struggling San Antonio Spurs for the best record in the NBA.
The Lakers are 17-1 since the All-Star break. They have won nine consecutive games.
Lakers 71, Jazz 64 (end of third quarter)
It was a better effort by the Lakers in the third quarter.
They caught the Jazz at 62-62 on a Derek Fisher three-pointer and then they extended the lead later in the period.
The quarter ended with a Lamar Odom three-pointer that pushed L.A.'s lead to seven points entering the fourth quarter.
The Lakers continued to play poorly, going down by 17 points early in the second quarter.
But then they got it together and closed to within six points at the half. They stayed in the game by making 15 of 20 free throws in the first half.
Kobe Bryant had 13 first-half points for the Lakers, who are shooting 39.4%. Andrew Bynum had two points, both on free throws, and one rebound in 16 minutes.
The Jazz, which is making 42.6% of its shots, is led by the 12 points of C.J. Miles.
Jazz 28, Lakers 22 (end of first quarter)
The Lakers didn't look very inspired in the first quarter at Utah, trailing by as many as 13 points.
The Jazz shot 50% from the field in the first, even after missing its last three shots.
C.J. Miles led the Jazz with 11 points on five-for-six shooting.
Barnes had pushed Dallas' Jason Terry during the game Thursday night after the Mavericks guard shoved Steve Blake down after being called for a blocking foul.
Terry, who was given a flagrant foul 2, Barnes, Blake and Dallas center Brendan Haywood were ejected from the game.
But only Barnes got suspended by the NBA on Friday for what the league said was "escalating an on-court altercation and actions following his ejection."
"Well, he's definitley going to have to check that stuff at the door when it comes to the playoffs," Jackson said. "You don't want to play short-handed in the playoffs. Third-partying is not a way to step things in the right direction."
Barnes' absence meant Luke Walton would be in the rotation.
The Lakers are 16-1 since the All-Star break and remain in the hunt for the Western Conference's top playoff spot.
-- Broderick Turner, reporting from Salt Lake City
Photo: Lakers center Andrew Bynum is grabbed by Jazz forward C.J. Miles while going for a rebound during their game Jan. 25 at Staples Center. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times