The Utah Jazz (44-33) have three straight games against teams based in Los Angeles, starting with the reeling Lakers (33-43). The Lakers have been out of the playoff race for weeks and their “star” rookie, Lonzo Ball, has either been injured or inefficient.
The last time these two teams met, it was a momentous occasion. Before that game, Donovan Mitchell was playing 22 minutes a game and averaging 7.0 points per game on 25 percent shooting. Not quite capitalizing on his great summer league showing. Then, against the Lakers, Mitchell scored a then-career high of 22 points in a breakout performance that included this memorable play.
That game was the moment Mitchell arrived in the NBA. Since that game, he has averaged 21.3 points per game on 44.5/34.3/81.2 shooting and proven he was the ultimate steal of this year’s draft.
When: Tuesday, April 3, 2018, 7:00 p.m. MDT
Where: Vivint Smart Home Arena, Salt Lake City, UT
TV: AT&T Sports Net - Rocky Mountain
Radio: 1280 AM/97.5 FM The Zone
Thabo Sefolosha- OUT (Knee)
Raul Neto - OUT (Wrist)
Los Angeles Lakers:
Lonzo Ball - OUT (Knee)
Brandon Ingram - OUT (Concussion protocol)
Isaiah Thomas - OUT (Hip)
Brook Lopez - Questionable (Back)
What to watch for
The Jazz have had a relatively easy schedule recently when you break it down. In the last seven games Utah has played three teams below .500 and two of the teams above that mark were hobbled by injuries to multiple key players. Yet, the Jazz are just 4-3 in those seven games.
In some games, the Jazz have made easy work of inferior or injured teams. They beat the Grizzlies by 10 and took down the depleted Warriors and Timberwolves by 19 and 24 points, respectively. In others, the Jazz lost to the very much inferior Atlanta Hawks and dropped a winnable game against the injury-ridden Celtics.
This is an easily winnable game, it’s just up to the Jazz to determine if they will rise to the occasion or play down to the competition.
Can the Jazz hold the Lakers under 90 points again?
Assuming the Jazz have their heads on straight, it’s possible to make the Lakers offense look just as bad as last time. Utah held the Lakers to just 81 points, which is the seventh lowest point total the Jazz have held a team to this year.
Los Angeles is coming off an 83-84 loss to the Sacramento Kings, which means the momentum (or lack thereof in the Lakers’ case) is in Utah’s favor in this one. The Lakers are missing all of their main offensive weapons except Julius Randle, so it isn’t that much of a stretch to think the Jazz can keep their opponent under 90 points for a league-leading 16th time.
Most Likely Jazz Killer: Julius Randle
Randle has been one of the few bright spots for the Lakers this season. Overall he’s averaged 16.3 points and 8.0 rebounds and since the start of February he’s nearly been a 20/10 guy, averaging 21.1 points and 9.3 rebounds on 57.7 percent shooting.
The Jazz didn’t see much of Randle in their first matchup with the Lakers. The power forward played just 18 minutes and had six points on 2-7 shooting. But Randle has played less than 30 minutes just three times in the last 15 games and will likely lead the Lakers in usage percentage in the absence of basically half of the good offensive players on the team.