Utah Jazz (24-56, 16-24 home) vs Los Angeles Lakers (25-55, 11-28 road)
Tip Off @ 7:00 p.m. MST
Regular Season Series Game 4 of 4 (Jazz lead 2-1)
The battles in the past between the Utah Jazz and the Los Angeles Lakers have always seemed to have some kind of importance tied to them. Tonight, the importance of the game is in an entirely different aspect. The two worst teams record wise in the Western Conference will play tonight for a battle of lottery positioning. For an explanation on why the outcome of tonight’s game is so important, read our article from yesterday here.
The Jazz enter tonight having lost their last contest to the Denver Nuggets. Another game where the Jazz had a poor second half and let the lead slip away. The Jazz have lost 15 of their last 17 games. During that stretch, the Jazz have been outscored by their opponent by an average of 11.6 points per game.
The Lakers are also in full on tank mode, as they dropped their seventh straight game on Sunday when they lost at home to the Memphis Grizzlies. Another way to see that the Lakers are embracing the tank, is they have a ton of guys out. Kobe Bryant has been out basically the entire season, Steve Nash is day-to-day, Pau Gasol, Chris Kaman, and Xavier Henry are all out. The list for the Lakers is very long. The Jazz however, come into tonight with healthy guys across the board.
Over the last few games, coach Tyrone Corbin has gone with the young core of Trey Burke, Alec Burks, Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, and Enes Kanter as the starting lineup. Though it hasn’t resulted in wins, the improvements have been seen. If you focus just on points, the starting unit of the young guys has been much better. Before making the move, the Jazz starters were averaging 61.5 points per game. Now, the starting unit has been averaging 77.5 points per game.
The lack of a solid bench rotation has hurt the Jazz. However, they will be facing a Lakers team that is in a similar situation.
With all the injuries that the Lakers have had over the last while, they are using an eight man rotation. One of their main guys on offense in that rotation has been Jodie Meeks. Over the last 10 games, Meeks has been pretty solid averaging nearly 18 points per game. Over the last five games, he has seen games where he has put up 25, 30, and 20 points respectively. Against the Jazz this season, Meeks has only played two games, but in those two, he has been able to put some points on the board and has averaged 2.0 steals per game.
Alec has been in the starting lineup for two games in a row now. In the first game, Alec played pretty well with 16 points and 6 rebounds. However, he also had four turnovers in the game. Alec should be a go to guy on offense if the Jazz want to win tonight. When Alec gets going, he might be the toughest guy to stop on the Jazz roster. However, Meeks can light it up if he gets going as well. Should be an interesting match up to watch.
There is a part of me that wants the Jazz to lose this game, for lottery purposes. However, there is a bigger part of me that wants the Jazz to never lose to the Lakers. The rivalry that we have had going on with the Lakers is something that I thoroughly enjoy. Even this season, with both teams at the bottom of the barrel, the rivalry is still there.
Both teams have really been playing awful, and someone is going to break the losing streak tonight. The Jazz starters, I believe, are going to play better than the Lakers starters. However, the bench play looks like it could be fairly even. The Jazz have two guys in Richard Jefferson and Marvin Williams that could be big factors, but the Lakers have Nick Young who can score more than the two Jazz guys combined.
I think this game will be fairly close. The Jazz have won two out of three games this season against the Lakers, including one in L.A.. I’m sure there will be a lot of people who don’t agree with it, but I want to see the Jazz be the Lakers because it is the Lakers. If it was almost any other team, I would probably be rooting for the loss, but I just don’t like seeing the Jazz lose to them. Hopefully, if the Jazz win, the lottery situation will work itself out anyway and we land in a position to take a guy who is going to help the franchise.
Jazz 96, Lakers 92