Fox News - Fair & Balanced

Sports


Bumbling Lakers play host to Jazz

(Sports Network) - Nothing is going right for the Los Angeles Lakers.

They've lost four in a row, fallen eight games under .500, held a team meeting that apparently left more questions than answers, lost their All-Star center to injury last time out and now have to face a Utah Jazz team on Friday night that has beaten the Lakers four in a row and won four in a row overall.

"It's been a nightmare the last few weeks. We just have to keep fighting," said Steve Nash.

Sadly, for the Lakers, this nightmare is real.

Dwight Howard re-injured the torn labrum in his right shoulder Wednesday night in a loss at Memphis. He only played 14 minutes, but in one piece of encouraging news, Howard did no further damage and is cleared to play.

That's all for the good news.

The loss to the Grizzlies capped an 0-3 road trip where the Lakers lost by an average of 10 points. The Lakers held a team meeting before the loss and according to the Los Angeles Times, Kobe Bryant confronted Howard about chemistry issues. Howard didn't give much of an answer said the report.

Pau Gasol is still coming off the bench in favor of Earl Clark and that's how the lineup has been posted for Friday.

Nash scored seven points and had eight assists against the Grizzlies. He committed six turnovers.

Bryant had 29, but has clearly reached a level of frustration seldom seen in his Hall of Fame career.

At least the Lakers return to the Staples Center, although they only boast a 12-10 record at home. And the Jazz have won two in a row in Los Angeles against the Lakers.

"We have to study them, break them down, and try and take away what they do offensively," a curt Bryant said referring to the Jazz after the Grizzlies loss.

The Jazz have captured four in a row, including the last three at home, where they'll return for four straight after Friday's bounce to L.A. Utah knocked off the Washington Wizards, Cleveland Cavaliers and defending champion Miami Heat in Salt Lake City during this streak.

The Jazz took a nine-point lead into the fourth quarter Wednesday night against the Wiz, but Washington played brilliantly in the final frame. The Wizards outscored the Jazz, 30-19, in the fourth, but Paul Millsap iced the victory on a jumper with 20 seconds left.

"I think we were too focused on trying to put it away," said Millsap, who had 16 points and 15 rebounds on Wednesday. "We have to keep focused next time."

Al Jefferson also had a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Randy Foye, Jamaal Tinsley, Gordon Hayward and Enes Kanter all scored in double figures.

Friday night starts a three-game homestand for the Lakers. Oklahoma City comes to town on Sunday afternoon, then New Orleans on Tuesday. After that, it's a seven-game road odyssey.

01/25 10:41:59 ET