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Jazz hand Lakers club record-tying 6th straight home loss, 96-79, as Nash sits out 2nd half

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LOS ANGELES, Calif. - There was no emotional letdown by the Utah Jazz following their stunning upset of the two-time defending champion Miami Heat over the weekend.

The Los Angeles Lakers just didn't have enough healthy front-line players to make that happen.

Reserve Alec Burks scored 13 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter and the Jazz sent the injury-riddled Lakers to a franchise record-tying sixth straight home loss, 96-79 on Tuesday night.

It was the second time this season that the third-year shooting guard led Utah in scoring during a victory. The other was Jan. 13 against Denver, when they rode his career-high 34 points to a 118-103 triumph at Salt Lake City.

"Alec is kind of our Jamal Crawford in some games, and we need him to come in and score for us," Gordon Hayward said. "He brings a lot of energy off the bench, and he's had some really huge games for us this year. We can usually tell from the beginning that when he's active and he's more engaged in the game, he's going to have a good night.

"And, tonight, you could tell right away that was going to happen."

Hayward scored 15 points and reserve Jeremy Evans had 14 for Utah, which enjoyed a 55-40 rebounding edge. Derrick Favours had 11 points and 10 rebounds.

"It was a great effort by the bench and the starters," Burke said. "Everybody played great. Everybody was aggressive and fought hard."

Chris Kaman had 25 points and 14 boards for the Lakers, who have dropped nine of 11 overall and 21 of 26 since Dec. 21. The loss to Utah put Los Angeles in 14th place in the Western Conference, a half-game behind the Jazz and a game ahead of last-place Sacramento.

Undermined all season by a run of injuries, the Lakers most likely will miss the post-season for only the fifth time since the franchise relocated from Minneapolis to Los Angeles in 1960-61.

Five of their top six scorers — Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Jordan Farmar, Nick Young, Jodie Meeks and Xavier Henry — are still on the shelf. The only one from that group who played Tuesday was newcomer Kendall Marshall, who had seven points and seven assists.

"It's frustrating," Kaman said. "A lot of our guys are just trying to figure out where they're supposed to be and what they're supposed to be doing, because we've had so many guys hurt and then come back."

Marshall had 20 points and 15 assists against the Jazz on Jan. 3 — the last time the Lakers won a game at Staples Center. That was the first of his 15 starts at point guard before Steve Nash's return to the starting lineup on Sunday.

The 40-year-old Nash made a quick recovery from Sunday's loss to Chicago, which he left in the third quarter after getting hit in the his left leg — the same one that was fractured last season.

The two-time MVP, who missed 39 games with a nerve problem in his back before returning to the lineup last week, played 16 1/2 minutes against the Jazz before sitting out the second half. He had two points and two assists.

"He wanted to come back in the second half when we had so few guys to play," coach Mike D'Antoni said. "We just have to get through this period and get guys back after the All-Star break. We'll have three or four guys back then, and that will help."

Then there was Steve Blake, who also left the building less than 100 per cent.

"My arm got stuck in a screen between two guys and I hyperextended my arm again," said Blake, who recorded his 500th career steal in the fourth quarter. "It hurt, but I wasn't going to sit down. I just played through it."

D'Antoni used his 26th different starting lineup, with Kaman replacing Robert Sacre at centre and Shawne Williams at power forward instead of Ryan Kelly. Kaman made 11 of 24 shots, after scoring 27 points with a career-high 13 field goals against the Bulls. Williams, who signed a 10-day contract last Thursday after getting waived on Jan. 7, had 11 points in 37 minutes.

The Lakers' first four baskets of the night came on 3-pointers, but they didn't make another one the rest of the way and finished 4 for 16 behind the arc.

"We tried to keep them on the same side, and they weren't getting as many looks," Hayward said. "We had our hands up, contested their shots and made them put it on the floor."

The Jazz rallied from a 15-point first-quarter deficit to lead 48-37 at halftime as Los Angeles shot 4 for 18 in the second period.

Utah wants to keep things going when it hosts Philadelphia on Wednesday night. The 76ers are coming off a 43-point loss to the Warriors, which followed a 45-point drubbing by the Clippers. So this is a golden opportunity for Utah to improve on its 4-10 in the second half of back-to-back sets.

"Tomorrow's going to be a big game," Hayward said. "Obviously, Philadelphia's been beaten pretty handily the past couple of games, so they're going to come out with something to prove."

NOTES: The 1992-93 Lakers lost six consecutive games at the Forum in March of that season under rookie coach Randy Pfund. ... The Jazz are 15-9 when their starting five consists of Hayward, Al Jefferson, Marvin Williams, Favors and Trey Burke. The rest of the time, they are 3-24. ... The 18-34 Lakers have been taken off a nationally scheduled telecast for the third time this season, with ESPN scrapping plans for the Feb. 23 at home against the Brooklyn Nets.

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