SALT LAKE CITY — On a festive night when Kobe Bryant was honored for his final game in Utah and the Jazz organization paid tribute to Andrei Kirilenko for his sterling 10-year career, it was Rodney Hood who stole the show.
The second-year guard poured in 30 points, all in the first half, to tie a Jazz record with eight 3-pointers while leading Utah to a 123-75 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers Monday night at Vivint Arena. It tied the largest margin of victory ever for the Jazz and handed the once-vaunted Lakers the worst loss in team history.
The victory, which elevated Utah to 37-37 on the season, wasn’t unexpected, but perhaps the ease of it was. This game was basically over early in the first quarter when the Jazz reeled off 17 straight points and was certainly over by halftime, just after Hood put on one of the best shooting displays Jazz fans have ever seen.
Hood sank 8 of 9 3-pointers in the first half, including four treys in a four-minute stretch late in the half and 11 of 13 overall.
“I got a couple of clean looks and from there I just kept on shooting,’’ Hood said. “The hoop looked really big.”
The only thing that kept Hood from surpassing his career-high of 32 points, and Jeff Hornacek’s record for 3-pointers, was the inept play of the Lakers, which forced Quin Snyder to clear his bench early along with some vintage defense by Bryant.
While the crowd made noise every time Kobe touched the ball, they were buzzing throughout the latter portion of the second quarter when Hood put on a Steph Curry-like exhibition from 3-point range.
Hood had already scored 14 in the first quarter and made a pair of two-point baskets, a follow of his first miss of the night and a baseline turnaround after re-entering the game midway through the second quarter.
He made a pair of threes at the 5:30 and 4:52 marks and then added another pair later in the quarter in a 28-second span, both from out top.
That’s when Bryant, who was in the midst of a miserable offensive night (1-for-11 from the field, five points), had had enough and decided to show why he was once an eight-time first-team NBA all-defensive team player.
He blanketed Hood for the remainder of the half and the seven minutes of the third quarter, never allowing Hood to even get a shot off and rarely touch the ball. Both players left the game for good a minute into the fourth quarter.
“He stuck to me,’’ said Hood, who added that “not even in high school” had an opponent face-guarded him that close. “He gave up a layup rather than let me get the ball.”
Hood said the two “were talking a little bit of trash” but added, “it was all out of fun.”
Afterward, Bryant said, “Oh my . . . we had to do something. I’d rather not have to chase him all over the place like that, but we had to do something.”
Coach Byron Scott praised Bryant while dissing his young players, saying, “It’s a damn shame our oldest player has to take the challenge . . . but nobody else wanted to step up and take that challenge.”
Snyder praised Hood’s defense and said, “Rodney’s so efficient, it was good to see him get hot like that.”
Overshadowed by Hood’s terrific game, er, half, were fine performances by several other Jazz players. Trevor Booker scored a season-high 17 points on 6 of 8 from the field while Rudy Gobert tied his season high for rebounds with 19. Shelvin Mack had another fine game with17 points, five assists and just two turnovers.
“I think a lot of guys did a good job tonight,” Snyder said. “I thought this was Shelvin Mack’s best game -- he was very, very efficient. Maybe his numbers didn’t stand out, but I though his efficiency was really good.
All 12 Jazz players scored for Jazz and each was able to play at least eight minutes in the blowout victory. Other players in double figures were Derrick Favors with14 and Gordon Hayward and Trey Lyles with 11 points apiece. The 17 made 3-pointers set a Jazz record.
The Lakers, who shot just 30.6 percent from the field, were led by Lou Williams’ 16 points off the bench and 12 from Jordan Clarkson.
After disposing of one of the NBA’s worst teams, now the Jazz get ready to face the NBA’s best, the Golden State Warriors Wednesday night at Vivint Arena. The Warriors will be coming off a home game against Washington the night before, marking the third straight game that the Jazz will face an opponent coming off a back-to-back.