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Rapid Reaction: Lakers 102, Jazz 84

1/26/2013

LOS ANGELES -- How long has it been since you felt good watching the Lakers play?

How long has it been since Dwight Howard (17 points, 13 rebounds) dominated both ends of the floor like the No. 1 center in the league is supposed to?

How long has it been since Kobe Bryant displayed his full offensive game and had as much of an impact passing (14 assists) as he did shooting (14 points on 7-for-10 shooting)?

How long has it been since Pau Gasol (15 points on 7-for-8 shooting, 7 rebounds, 1 testy confrontation with Paul Millsap) looked like the talented big man who helped the team to consecutive titles?

How long has it been since Steve Nash (15 points on 6-for-11 shooting) aggressively looked for his own shot?

How long has it been since the Lakers' defense looked like five guys on a string instead of a haphazard group of individuals?

The wait ended Friday.

At least for one night, the Lakers looked like the team everybody thought they could be.

How it happened: The Lakers started off the game on a 12-2 run that featured two dunks from Dwight Howard, two assists from Kobe Bryant and a 3-pointer by Steve Nash, and then controlled the action the rest of the way.

What it means: Don't plan the parade down Figueroa Street just yet. The Lakers are still seven games under .500 at 18-25. They still have a lot of work to do, but they proved they could sustain some serious team turmoil and still come together with a dominating performance.

Hits: The Lakers' defense held the Jazz to just 84 points on 42 percent shooting from the field and 21.4 percent shooting from 3 (3-for-14).

Misses: This is a good miss, but still, it's a miss: Bryant finished one rebound short of his 19th career triple-double and one assist shy of tying his career high of 15 dimes in a game.

Stat of the night: Metta World Peace (17 points) shot 5-for-11 from 3, but 0-for-5 from everywhere else.

What's next: Friday's victory was as vital as they come, but Sunday's game is a completely different animal with Oklahoma City, the No. 1 team in the Western Conference, coming to town. A win against the Thunder would do wonders to restart the Lakers' sinking season, as they have one more home game (New Orleans) after the OKC game before they go on the road for their seven-game Grammy's road trip.

Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.