by Marcel Mutoni@marcel_mutoni

For about three-and-a-half quarters last night, the Los Angeles Lakers and Utah Jazz played a basketball game that was so ugly, people were forced to recall the equally hideous NCAA title game from two nights ago.

The ending to the game was drama-filled and somewhat well-played, as the talented rookie Gordon Hayward (22 points, 6 boards, 5 assists) outdueled Kobe Bryant, while Bryant — after having tossed in a couple of critical three-pointers late — threw the ball away on the game’s final possession.

Afterwards, the Lakers could offer very little in the way of explanation for their lackluster play in the loss, and Lamar Odom called it their worst performance of the season.

From the OC Register:

“Nothing to break down. … This wasn’t us.” Odom did acknowledge the Lakers’ existence long enough to say: “This is our worst game of the year. By far.” Odom told reporters: “Don’t get intricate in your writing. Played bad. Really bad. And it’s time to move on.”

When told that Odom had cited it as the worst game of the season, Andrew Bynum laughed and thought of the game that many Lakers fans likely already have: at Cleveland on Feb. 16. But Bynum then added about this loss to the visiting Jazz, which previously lost at home to the 21-victory Washington Wizards: “Definitely top three.”

The Lakers’ loss wasn’t just unsightly, it was also quite costly.

Thanks to their win in Atlanta last night, the top spot in the Western Conference is now all but assured for the San Antonio Spurs, as their magic number is down to just two games.