Utah Jazz (17-33, 6-19 road) @ Los Angeles Lakers (18-33, 8-14 home)
Tip Off @ 8:30 p.m. MST
Tickets: Jazz @ Lakers tickets
Season Series 3 of 4 (series tied 1-1)
The Los Angeles Lakers are on the verge of doing something they haven’t done for 20+ years. Lose tonight, and the Lakers will have lost six games in a row at Staples Center. They will have a difficult time stopping that streak when they take on the Jazz, whose confidence is riding high after knocking off the two-time defending NBA champion, Miami Heat.
It’s safe to say that the injury bug has not been kind to the Lakers this season. Yesterday at practice, they only had eight healthy bodies. Steve Nash, who ESPN keeps wanting to remind us is 40 years old, participated only in the non-physical portions of practice and then got treatment. Nash told the media afterwards that he would suit up tonight, he will play tonight, and he is expected to start. That injury bug could be a deal breaker as they face a fully healthy squad for the Jazz.
As mentioned, the Jazz knocked off the Heat in thrilling fashion Saturday night. The Jazz won the rebounding battle at 41-32, and also held Miami to fourth lowest shooting percentage this season with 43.3%. LeBron James was frustrated for most the night. Miami had a total of ten turnovers, where LeBron had five of those. The consensus in the locker room after the game was that the Jazz need to learn to play like that consistently. According to Gordon Hayward, “We have to be able to get up for every single game, not just against the world champs.” We will see if they can starting tonight.
Key Matchup: Marvin Williams vs Ryan Kelly
The Lakers roster looks defeated. Because of those injuries, the Lakers have had to start some guys who you wouldn’t normally see in a starting lineup. However, Ryan Kelly has been taking advantage of that starting spot the last few games. Sunday, Kelly layed a goose egg and didn’t score, but prior to that in his last two games, Kelly was shooting extremely well. Kelly had 20.5 points and 7.0 rebounds while shooting 54% from the field in those two games.
Kelly will most likely get the start again tonight and be matched up with Marvin Williams. Marvin has been on fire the last three games, scoring 20 or more points in all three games. Marvin also has shot 62.5% from beyond the arc in both of the Jazz’s last two games. Another great stat for Marvin, he has played in the Jazz’s last four games and has only one turnover in those games. Marvin is playing really well for the Jazz right now. He will be matched up against a rookie tonight that he should be able to take advantage of that matchup. Hopefully we see angry Marvin unleashed again tonight.
When I look at the Lakers roster, I don’t see how they can win this game. If tonight’s game is any indication of what we seen at practice yesterday, the Lakers will most likely only suit up nine players tonight. When you look at matchups, the Jazz look to have an advantage at nearly every position on the floor.
The Jazz, however, have been extremely inconsistent, especially on the road. Last game against the Lakers in Los Angeles, I thought the exact same thing that I am thinking tonight. The Jazz then went out and got rolled by the Lakers and let Kendall Marshall have a hay day.
Confidence is booming in this Jazz team tonight. Knocking off the defending champs will do that for you. The Lakers are coming off a loss to the Chicago Bulls on Sunday, and have lost 20 out of their last 25 games. If the Jazz want to win, they need to have another strong effort in the rebounding battle and get another good game from Marvin. I see both of those things happening for the Jazz tonight.
Jazz 106, Lakers 99