Los Angeles Lakers Kobe Bryant walks off the court to the locker room before time expires during their NBA basketball game against the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City

Find the panic button again: Bad first half dooms Lakers in ugly loss to Jazz

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I hope you enjoyed the couple days of respite from the Lakers panic, because it is back on.

If the Lakers were looking to carry over their momentum from their win over Detroit, they failed miserably against the Jazz and fell hard 95-86. L.A. looked listless early and dug themselves a hole that they couldn’t climb out of even with a spirited second half that saw their effort improve dramatically.

The Jazz controlled the paint against the Lakers’ vaunted front line and ultimately this was the key to the game. Utah scored 28 points in the paint in the first half alone and rode their trio of Al Jefferson (18 points and 10 boards on the night), Derrick Favors, and Enes Kanter early on to set a tone of bruising, physical play.

On the perimeter, the Lakers had a hard time containing Mo Williams and Randy Foye. The backcourt duo combined for 33 points on only 24 shots with Williams making his mark early in the game and Foye hitting several key shots down the stretch (including three huge three pointers) to bury the Lakers last ditch attempt at a comeback.

For the Lakers, it was another mistake prone night as they turned the ball over 18 times and got lost on their defensive rotations too frequently. Combine that with a 34% shooting night from the floor (including going 4-23 from behind the arc) and they simply weren’t ready to play. Kobe Bryant had a team best 29 but was clearly frustrated after the loss.

If the Lakers were playing better to start the year you could chalk this game up to a bad night and brush it off. But poor play has been the norm for them through five games and even the most patient observers should start to be a bit concerned.

Aaron Gordon both legs over the mascot, ball-under-the-legs dunk (VIDEO)

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TORONTO — Zach LaVine won the NBA All-Star Saturday Dunk Contest, but in an epic night for my money this was the single best dunk.

Orlando’s Aaron Gordon broke ground with this one — guys have jumped over mascots and other players before (and a Kia hood), but by splitting their legs apart. Gordon just put both legs over Stuff (that’s the mascot’s name, Stuff the Magic Dragon, I don’t make this up) — and took the ball off the mascot’s head, went under his legs, and threw it down.

Insane.

Gordon deserved a trophy for his performance in this dunk contest.

Zach LaVine edges Aaron Gordon in epic, insane Dunk Contest

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TORONTO — That. Was. Amazing.

In a dunk contest that will go down with the all-time greats — Jordan vs. Dominique, Dr. J from the free throw line — Minnesota’s Zach LaVine defended his dunk contest title. Barely. Because Orlando’s Aaron Gordon was doing dunks nobody had ever seen before.

And LaVine was bringing it just as hard.

The two men advanced to the finals — dismissing Will Barton and Andre Drummond, each of whom had good dunks — and that was when it got wild.

There were four second-round dunks, and four perfect scores of 50. (That was in spite of Shaq, who wanted to give nines for second attempts.)

“I was prepared for four (second round dunks),” LaVine said. “To tell the truth, he came with something that no one else has done. He did two dunks that were just crazy with the mascots, jumping over them. We just kept pushing each other until the last dunk. I’ve got to give it up to my boy Will “The Thrill” Barton. It’s because of him I think I won. Because he said try to go from the free-throw line. I’d never done that before, and I just tried it. So I guess it was a great dunk. I think it was the best one ever.”

The Air Canada Centre crowd was exploding with every dunk. The two men went to a dunk-off — and got two more 50s.

“If I knew it was going to be like that, I would have prepared better and we would have been here dunking all night, going back 50 after 50 after 50 after 50,” Gordon said. “We would have been here all night. I didn’t know it was going to be like that. I was just hoping Zach was going to miss, and it wasn’t going to happen. You could see as my facial expressions when Zach dunks it, it’s like okay, that’s a 50. Like I know we’re going to have to dunk again.”

So they went to a second-round of overtime, where LaVine put up another 50 and won the contest.

Gordon was close to perfect.

Zach LaVine can flat-out fly.

Magic’s Aaron Gordon with the over-the-mascot mad dunk

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TORONTO — Aaron Gordon was giving Zach LaVine all he could handle in the Dunk Contest.

He blew the lid off the Air Canada Centre with this dunk in the first round — and it wasn’t even his best dunk of the night. Never seen this before.

This dunk contest was awesome, so much more video to come.

Zach LaVine opens Slam Dunk Contest title defense with spectacular behind-the-back slam (VIDEO)

during the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge 2016 at Air Canada Centre on February 12, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
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TORONTO — Zach LaVine clearly heard all the talk that Aaron Gordon or Will Barton had a chance to upset him in the Slam Dunk Contest. He came out ready to prove his superiority right off the bat. This behind-the-back slam was his first attempt of the night:

Even better was the reaction, both from Andre Drummond and from LaVine’s Minnesota teammates: