Another loss for the struggling Lakers

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Another loss for the struggling Lakers

From Comcast SportsNetSALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Before their game Wednesday, Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike Brown remarked how easily Kobe Bryant had been scoring and in so many different ways.Against Utah, with four or five players taking turns guarding Bryant, nothing came easy as the Jazz pulled off a 95-86 victory to drop the Lakers to 1-4."It's tough for anyone to stop him one-on-one," Jazz guard Randy Foye said. "I have to give a lot of credit to my teammates. Me, Gordon (Hayward), Marvin (Williams), Mo (Williams), Alec (Burks). All of us. It worked well, but I'm lucky the game finished when it did because any longer and he was starting to get it going."Bryant led all scorers with 29 points, 16 in the fourth quarter. But he shot just 7 of 17 overall after entering the game shooting nearly 60 percent. He also was 0 of 4 from 3-point range, and was only 3 of 10 after three quarters.While the Jazz were limiting the Lakers to 34 percent shooting, Al Jefferson and free-agent acquisition Foye provided a 1-2 punch.Jefferson scored 18 points and Foye added 17 off the bench on five 3-pointers, including three straight in the fourth quarter."Oh man, I was feeling it," said Foye, who finished 5 of 9 from beyond the arc and made all of Utah's 3s. "I was just trying to go out there and be aggressive. I've got to give a lot of credit to my teammates. My teammates found me at the right spots and I just knocked down shots."Foye said the Lakers shouldn't have been surprised that he was a dangerous 3-point shooter."They know me," he said. "Last year I played for the Clippers and had big games against them. They knew. But it was either Big Al with the layup or I get a 3."The Jazz led by as many as 16 points early, but the Lakers were within five with 8:27 left before Foye hit three straight 3-pointers to give Utah a 79-68 lead with 6:40 remaining.Jefferson scored on back-to-back baskets for Utah as the Jazz boosted their lead to 13.Bryant's 16-point fourth helped Los Angeles get within five, but his dunk with 12.5 seconds left was too little, too late."We're all frustrated," Brown said. "I'm very frustrated too for the simple fact that I just don't think we played the game like we talked about going in. We wanted to be the ones to hit first ... but we didn't."Utah, which beat Dallas in the opener only to lose three straight on the road, started fast and finished strong.Utah held a 44-36 advantage in points in the paint and a 15-7 edge on the fast break.The Jazz also forced 19 Lakers turnovers, including six by Bryant and five by Dwight Howard."A lot of it just comes from reading each other, getting in sync with each other," said Bryant, who was playing his 79th career game against the Jazz but only fifth with new teammate Howard.Howard (19 points, nine rebounds) said the Lakers' intensity was low.Everyone acknowledged Utah is a different team at home.The Jazz led by seven early as Mo Williams and Hayward started fast. Hayward left Bryant on the floor after stealing the ball from him at one end and dunking at the other for a 9-2 Utah lead.The Lakers pulled within 19-17 on Pau Gasol's jam off a pass from Bryant. But Utah closed on a 6-0 run to take a 25-17 lead, with a pair of baskets from Derrick Favors and a 17-foot jumper from big man Enes Kanter.Utah's reserves kept things rolling in the second quarter, with Favors and Kanter dominating inside at both ends. Kanter shut down Howard on back-to-back possessions, and had a dunk and three-point play. Foye's 3-pointer pushed Utah's lead to 35-21 with 9:11 left in the half and his free throws put the Jazz up 43-27.Mo Williams kept the pressure on offensively with 14 points in the first half on 7-of-10 shooting, taking advantage of Steve Nash's continued absence. He finished with 16 points on 8 of 13 shooting.Hayward was just 2 of 11 overall, but had a pair of steals and three blocks, none bigger than his swat of Metta World Peace shortly before the break.Utah finished with seven blocked shots, including two by Burks, who showed he wasn't afraid to play Bryant tight.Bryant took only one shot in the first quarter and was 1 of 4 at halftime. At one point, Los Angeles was shooting just 25 percent.In the third, Bryant had a chance to cut Utah's lead to two but was blocked by Favors, leaving Bryant screaming for the foul. He didn't get it, but Marvin Williams converted a three-point play at the other end six seconds later to push Utah's lead back to 63-56.Kanter's slam gave Utah a 65-57 lead going into the fourth."It's definitely sweet," said Mo Williams, who added seven assists. "But it was all about us fighting. We needed to get this one."Notes: The Jazz went 3 12 minutes without scoring in the third as they shot just 26 percent in the quarter. Utah held a 44-36 advantage in points in the paint and a 15-7 edge on the fast break. ... The Lakers finished with a huge advantage at the free throw line, but made just 32 of 46. ... Jordan Hill grabbed a season-high 12 rebounds for the Lakers.

With Bumgarner sidelined, Blach 'taking full advantage' of opportunity

With Bumgarner sidelined, Blach 'taking full advantage' of opportunity

SAN FRANCISCO -- At some point over the next four days, Madison Bumgarner will pick up a baseball, stand a few feet across from a member of the training staff, and simply play catch. It'll be a huge step in Bumgarner's rehab, and should it go well, a boost to the psyche of a struggling team.

In the meantime, another lefty is making sure the Giants don't suffer too much without their ace, as improbable as that first seemed.

Ty Blach took a shutout into the eighth Saturday night and in true Bumgarner fashion, he added a pair of hits and an RBI. The Giants beat the Braves 6-3. They've won Blach's past three starts, and even with a 10-run outing in Cincinnati mixed in, he has a 3.71 ERA since taking the spot left open by a dirt bike accident.

"Because of what happened he's in the rotation," manager Bruce Bochy said, "And he's taking full advantage."

Blach has shown that long term, he might be a big part of this rotation. It's been years since the Giants locked a young, cost-controlled starter in, and Blach has backed up his big cameo last year. It's possible -- likely even -- that at some point the Giants will need to trade a veteran, perhaps Johnny Cueto, for young bats. Blach provides needed insurance. 

Short term, he's providing a huge boost to a team that doesn't have much going right. Blach has thrown at least seven innings in his past four starts. He has allowed just eight earned runs in four starts since the one in Cincinnati, throwing 28 2/3 innings. 

"I feel good," Blach said. "I've always been a starter, so it's been a pretty easy transition to make. I feel comfortable."

The Giants are comfortable behind him, as evidenced by a half-dozen strong defensive plays Saturday. 

"He's been consistent and he works quickly," first baseman Brandon Belt said. "He's just a great guy to play behind."

Blach even joined in at the plate. He had an RBI single in his first at-bat -- his first big league hit off Not Clayton Kershaw -- and later roped another single. Blach even showed off his wheels, busting it from first to third on Denard Span's ball to the corner before Phil Nevin held him up. 

"I worked into some good counts and I was able to get fastballs," Blach said of his night at the plate. "It's definitely a big confidence booster when your spot comes up and you're able to drive in runs."

The night was straight out of Bumgarner's playbook, and it was needed. The Giants had dropped five of six, but Blach was backed by homers from Nick Hundley and Brandon Belt. It got a little hairy late, but the bullpen held on, clinching Blach's third win of the season. He looks poised for many more, and Bochy is happy to keep running him out there.

"I'm not surprised by what he's doing," the manager said.

 

Instant Analysis: Blach does it all vs Braves, Giants snap skid

Instant Analysis: Blach does it all vs Braves, Giants snap skid

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — This spot in the rotation is the one reserved for the stopper, the pitcher who takes a game by the throat when his team really needs it. 

Ty Blach took the mound Saturday for a team that had lost five of six, and just as Madison Bumgarner often has, Blach ended the skid. The young lefty was dominant into the eighth and the bats finally provided enough support. The Giants won 6-3, tying this weekend series with the Braves.

Here are five things to know from a night we were reminded that Emilio Bonifacio is in the big leagues … 

--- Blach pitched 7 2/3 innings. He has thrown at least seven innings in his last four starts, and five of seven starts overall. Jeff Samardzija (6) is the only Giants starter who has gone that deep more often. Blach is tied with Johnny Cueto for second-most seven-inning starts on staff, and Cueto has made three additional starts. 

--- Blach’s RBI single in the fourth was -- at the time -- the fourth hit of his career, and the first against a pitcher not named Clayton Kershaw. The ball had an exit velocity of 101 mph. Blach tried to score from first on Denard Span’s double, but Phil Nevin held him. Still, the way he was moving, it makes you wonder if Samardzija really is Bruce Bochy’s best pitcher-pinch-running option. In the seventh, Blach picked up a second single. 

--- Blach’s only bad start has been the one he made in Cincinnati, where the Giants played like a Double-A team. If you take that one out, Blach has a 2.21 ERA since taking over Bumgarner’s rotation spot. 

--- Even though he gave up just two earned in 7 2/3, Blach’s home ERA actually went up. It’s 1.75, which ranks seventh in the National League. The sellout crowd gave Blach a standing ovation when he was pulled in the eighth. 

--- Blach had a season-high five strikeouts. When he got Nick Markakis to end the first, Blach ended a streak of 37 left-handers faced without a strikeout. He later struck out another lefty, Matt Adams. The new Braves first baseman came up as the tying run in the eighth but Derek Law got him to ground out to first. 

--- Bonus sixth “thing to know” ... on Blach of course: His first name is Tyson, not Tyler. It’s Tyson Michael Blach.