It’s Black Friday in Los Angeles for the Utah Jazz (8-10) as they enter the STAPLES Center riding a two-game loss streak to take on LeBron James’ Lakers (10-7), who have been on a hot streak since a slow start.
After getting off to a 2-5 start, the Lakers are 8-2 in their last 10, with the only losses coming against the Toronto Raptors and in Orlando during an Eastern Conference road swing. Don’t let that fool you into thinking this is a game the Jazz have no shot to win, though. Last time out, it took a Herculean effort from LeBron James (32 pt, 14 reb, 7 ast, 1 blk in 35 min) to top the 2-14 Cleveland Cavaliers 109-105.
The King’s supporting cast has left quite a bit to be desired. If Josh Hart, who is shooting 42 percent from 3 and has looked like LA’s second best player at times, misses this game, that should make things a bit easier. At the very least, this is a game Utah should be competitive in, if not win. If they are to get back to where expectations started this season, it’s one they should absolutely win.
When: 8:30 p.m. MT, Friday Nov. 23
Where: STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA
TV: AT&T SportsNet
Radio: 1280AM/97.5 FM
None (Wait, what?)
Los Angeles Lakers:
Josh Hart - Ankle - QUESTIONABLE
Rajon Rondo - Hand - OUT
What to watch for
Jazz Starting Lineup
Utah’s starting lineup is getting to be a problem. Among Jazz lineups that have played at least 20 minutes together this season, the starters have the second-word net rating of the bunch at -1.1. If you swap Derrick Favors for Jae Crowder, the lineup’s net rating improves by 12.6 points. That’s the change I think needs to happen.
Against most modern NBA lineups, the Favors-Gobert front court is no longer sustainable, especially paired with a third non-shooter in Ricky Rubio. In 174 minutes together this season, their net rating is -4.3 compared to Gobert and Crowder’s 5.5. A 9.8 point swing.
I don’t expect any changes to the lineup tonight (or anytime soon, for that matter), but the starting lineup getting outscored consistently is a trend to keep an eye on.