NBA

Jazz, Lakers look to end slumps

SALT LAKE CITY -- Fatigue finally caught up with Utah and robbed some of the team's momentum.

The Jazz (29-18) had a six-game winning streak snapped with back-to-back losses to Oklahoma City and Denver earlier in the week. In both games, Utah exhibited sparse energy on offense and could not get enough stops on the defensive end to make up for it.

Utah blew a nine-point fourth-quarter lead in a 97-95 setback against the Thunder after shooting just 38 percent (16 of 42) in the second half. Things grew worse a night later against the Nuggets; the Jazz trailed by as many as 16 points in the third quarter and ultimately fell 103-93.

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A late comeback by Utah fell short. The Jazz cut it to four at 92-88 but could draw no closer after George Hill missed a corner 3-pointer and Jameer Nelson hit a jumper on the other end to help the Nuggets pull away over the final two minutes.

"We were actually fortunate to be where we were, the way the game evolved," Utah coach Quin Snyder said. "Give our guys credit; we continued to compete."

If the Jazz hope to beat Los Angeles for a third time this season, they will need their starters to regain some shooting consistency. Gordon Hayward has shot 29.6 percent over the past two games. Hill has shot 28.6 percent, including 1 of 10 from 3-point range.

In many instances, shots that normally drop have fallen short because of tired legs. It extended to the other end, where Utah struggled to close out on plays and prevent high-percentage shots.

"It was tough mentally, and I just think it was mental fatigue out there," Jazz forward Derrick Favors said.

The Lakers (16-33) come to Utah feeling much more desperate to carve out any positive momentum. Los Angeles has dropped seven of its last eight games, including a 122-73 loss to Dallas on Sunday that ranked as the most lopsided in franchise history.

Los Angeles followed it up by losing to Portland 105-98 -- the 11th straight time the Lakers have lost to the Blazers dating to April 2014. It was also the third straight loss to Portland in January alone.

A porous defense has been the culprit in the lack of success against Portland and other teams. The Lakers are yielding 111.2 points per game in January and have held only two opponents under 100.

Los Angeles has also struggled to find its shot in back-to-back losses to Dallas and Portland. The Lakers are shooting just 38.9 percent over their last two games and only 28 percent from the perimeter.

"We're a team near the bottom trying to fight our way up," Los Angeles coach Luke Walton told reporters before the loss to Portland.

Utah won both previous meetings between the two teams this season.