Kanter sets franchise record on NBA debut
Utah Jazz center Enes Kanter (R) was successful on the defensive end of the court during his first NBA match, but he was largely disappointing on offense. AP photoTurkish center Enes Kanter set a Utah Jazz record for rookies, pulling 11 rebounds in his NBA debut on Dec. 27, but his efforts were not enough to save his team.
The Los Angeles Lakers were too good for the Jazz, who lost 96-71.
Kanter’s total rebounds were one better than Thurl Bailey’s 10 rebounds in his debut for the Jazz. Kanter is touted as one of the hottest prospects in the league, and he was picked third in the NBA Draft.
Kanter added two blocked shots to his defensive tally, but his performance on the other end of the court was ineffectual, since he only had five points and was 1-for-7 in field goals.
Kobe Bryant scored 26 points, Pau Gasol added 22 points and nine rebounds, and the Lakers avoided just the fourth 0-3 start in franchise history with the victory.
“We’re a very active team,” Bryant was quoted as saying on the NBA website. “This is a blue-collar team. We’re a scrappy bunch. You saw that. We’re going to fight and scratch and claw for everything, as it should be. That’ll get us by.”
Metta World Peace scored 14 points for the Lakers, who had much more life than the Jazz despite playing their third game in three nights to open the season.
Los Angeles ran away with a dominant third quarter, making a 27-8 surge out of halftime
in the club’s first win for new coach Mike Brown.
“To hold a team to 32 percent and 71 points in an NBA game, I don’t care who you’re playing, you’re doing something right on that end of the floor,” Brown said. “The focus, the energy, the effort, that communication and trust that we brought defensively, was exciting to see.”
Paul Millsap had 18 points and 10 rebounds for Utah, the last NBA team to open its regular season. Coach Tyrone Corbin scowled throughout the lowest-scoring performance in an opener in franchise history.
“They’re a veteran team, they have a lot of pride, and they have some great players in that locker room,” Corbin said. “I told our guys before the game, `If you expect them to come out and lay down because they’re playing there games in three nights, you’re mistaken.’ They wanted to get the monkey off their back as soon as they could, and they played like it.”
The Lakers got their only back-to-back-to-back series of games out of the way immediately, although they still won’t even get consecutive days off until mid-January. When the New York Knicks visit Staples Center tonight, Los Angeles still will be without starting center Andrew Bynum, who will finish his four-game suspension for misbehavior in last spring’s playoffs.
Another Turkish player, Mehmet Okur, was also upset as his New Jersey Nets suffered a heavy 106- 70 defeat at the hands of Atlanta Hawks.
Additional AP report was used in this story.