LOS ANGELES (AP) — At this time of year, wins and losses don't matter. Minutes and developing chemistry are the important things, especially for the revamped Utah Jazz.
Reserve Enes Kanter scored eight of his 14 points during a decisive fourth-quarter run and had 14 rebounds, leading the Jazz to a 99-86 exhibition victory over the winless Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday night.
"I like the fact that the guys and come into the game and working extremely hard with the minutes they get and they're making the most of their time on the floor," coach Tyrone Corbin said. "Everybody's trying to grow together, learn where different guys like the ball on the court and where they have to be on the defensive end, and how we rotate and communicate. This is the way it's going to be. We need to have everybody engaged in what's going on."
Williams, acquired in a trade that sent Devin Harris to the Atlanta Hawks, also had 14 points for Utah (2-1). Mo Williams, replacing Harris as the starting point guard after the Jazz acquired him from the Clippers in a four-team trade last June, missed seven of eight shots and had seven points in 21 minutes with two assists.
"It's not that important to me," Mo Williams said about his return to a starting role. "It's just that I'm playing the game the way I want to play and maximizing my potential. I just want to be consistent every night. It's not a big challenge. I think it's just a case of the more you play, the better chemistry you have. That's what it's all about right now, and I think the team is shaping up pretty good. Tonight was a good test for us."
After playing their first two exhibition games way off-Broadway in Fresno and Ontario, Calif. — and losing both by a combined margin of 45 points — the Lakers (0-3) returned to Staples Center for the first time since their 103-100 loss to Oklahoma City on May 19 in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals.
Kobe Bryant had 18 points, eight rebounds and five assists in 24 minutes after sitting out Wednesday's loss against Portland because of a right shoulder strain.
"It felt great. No issues whatsoever. None. I didn't even think about it," Bryant said.
Center Dwight Howard, cleared Tuesday for limited five-on-five full-court scrimmages with contact after undergoing back surgery last April to repair a herniated disc in his back, has yet to see his first action with the Lakers since he was acquired in a four-team trade that sent Andrew Bynum to Philadelphia in July.
Two-time MVP Steve Nash, making his home debut before the Staples Center crowd after 16 seasons years of tormenting the Lakers with Dallas and Phoenix, played 23 minutes and finished with two points and five assists. He is still learning the fine points of the Lakers' new "Princeton offense," which was brought in by assistant coach Eddie Jordan.