The Utah Jazz (49-30) are rolling. They’ve won 12 of their last 13. The Los Angeles Lakers (36-44) are just trying to get out of a miserable season.
Tonight’s game should be... Interesting. Each team will be missing five regular rotation players with a sixth listed as questionable. For the Jazz, their playoff position is almost locked in. Anything other than a first-round date with the Portland Trail Blazers would be an upset at this point. Further taxing players with nicks and dings would be more trouble than it’s worth. This game still means something, though, because home court advantage could still be up for grabs in that potential series.
For the Lakers, they’ve just shut a lot of guys down because, why not? Despite that, they’re actually 5-3 in their last eight games. With the players the Jazz are sitting, this probably won’t be a cake walk.
When: Sunday, April 7, 2019 • 7:30 PM MDT
Where: Staples Center • Los Angeles, CA
TV: AT&T SportsNet
Radio: 97.5 FM | 1280 AM The Zone
Dante Exum — Torn patellar tendon — OUT
Derrick Favors — Back spasms — OUT
Kyle Korver — Knee — OUT
Ricky Rubio — Quad — OUT
Raul Neto — Ankle — OUT
Jae Crowder — Quad — QUESTIONABLE
Los Angeles Lakers:
LeBron James — Groin — OUT
Lonzo Ball — Ankle — OUT
Josh Hart — Knee — OUT
Brandon Ingram — DVT — OUT
Kyle Kuzma — Foot — OUT
Reggie Bullock — Foot — QUESTIONABLE
What to watch for
Who will step up for the Jazz?
With two regular starters and all three regular rotation point guards out, there will be some less-utilized faces on the court tonight for Utah. I also wouldn’t be surprised if Quin Snyder limits the minutes of Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert a bit. Grayson Allen, fresh off his best NBA performance to date (23 points on 14 shots), will get more chances to make an impact in this one.
Georges Niang, who has appeared in 56 games this season but averages just 7 minutes, will also get considerable run tonight. In the previous two games, he’s played will when given a heavier load. Over 47 minutes against the Phoenix Suns and Sacramento Kings, Niang is 7-of-9 from the field and 5-of-7 from behind the arc. If the Jazz win tonight, I would think Allen and Niang will have a big hand in it.
Alex Caruso (He’s heating up...)
Alex Caruso, currently on a two-way contract, didn’t appear in a game for the Lakers this season until January 21. He’s played in just 23 games. Since becoming a regular part of the rotation in March, though, he’s done more than enough to prove he belongs on the NBA stage. Over his last 16 games, Caruso is averaging 12.1 points, 3.2 assists and 3.7 rebounds. He’s shooting 52% from 3.
In the Lakers surprise win over the Clippers Friday, Caruso went off. He dropped 32 points and was 5-of-7 on 3-point shots. We’ll see if he has a repeat performance in him against one of the league’s best defenses.