Utah Jazz (11-24) @ Los Angeles Lakers (13-19)
Tip Off @ 8:30 p.m. MST
The Jazz got a good win last night, beating the Milwaukee Bucks, 96-87. Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors both finished the game with 20+ points. Trey Burke also scored in double figures, which made it 6 players to do so last night. The Jazz, unlike the Lakers, are healthy right now and shouldn’t have any players missing the game, except for most likely Ian Clark and Mike Harris who could be inactive again.
The Lakers were short handed a little bit last week when they lost to the Jazz in Salt Lake City. Tonight, they have lost more players. Pau Gasol, who missed last weeks game, is expected to play. Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Steve Blake, Jordan Farmar, and Xavier Henry are all out for tonight. The Lakers will start Kendall Marshall tonight at point guard, the only healthy point guard on the roster right now. Wesley Johnson is also listed as day-to-day.
Key Matchup : Derrick Favors vs Pau Gasol
Last week during this preview, the key thing for the Jazz to look out for was Nick Young. That is still something that they need to look at. Young had 21 points before fouling out against the Jazz last week, and in their last game against the Bucks, he finished the game with 25 points.
As much as the Jazz need to keep Young contained, Favors will have a tough matchup with Gasol as well. Gasol is a very gifted big man and was missed last week when he was out with an illness. Like Young, Gasol played good against Milwaukee in their last game and scored 25 points in his return.
In his last matchup against the Jazz last season, Gasol finished the game with 15 points and 7 rebounds in a 102-84 win in L.A.
Favors should match up well with Gasol. Their averages are nearly identical on the season and Favors is also coming off of a big game. The part of Gasol’s game that could give Favors problems is that he can step out and hit the long range jump shot. Favors struggled defensively playing the power forward position because he didn’t like to step away from the basket to defend the “stretch 4″ type big men. Gasol will give that same problem tonight, so Favors will need to step away from the basket a lot.
In yesterday morning’s shootaround, all the Jazz players were asked the same question regarding “tanking” for the lottery. Marvin summed it up best what the Jazz players’ plan is on that. “No player in a Utah Jazz uniform is tanking anything.” As much as fans want the tank to happen, the Jazz are playing good basketball, and their schedule is very favorable right now.
Tonight is another game that the Jazz have a very good chance of winning. The Jazz have won 2 games in a row and are 5-5 in their last 10 games. Also, with this current starting lineup, the Jazz are 10-7. The Lakers on the other hand, are 3-7 in their last 10 games and look to be on the road to passing the Jazz to put themselves in the lottery running.
The Jazz played at the Staples Center last week against the Clippers and played very, very well until the final minute. Tonight, I think the Jazz will come out strong and get a lead on the Lakers that they wont give up. It will get close in the 4th quarter, but with the way the Jazz are playing, they will pull it off and win in L.A.
Jazz 98, Lakers 92