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Utah Jazz visit Los Angeles Lakers looking for 50th win

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It would be Utah’s second 50-win season since 2009

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Utah Jazz Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

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.


Game Info

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

Injuries:

Utah Jazz:

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?

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Utah Jazz Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

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...)

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Los Angeles Clippers Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

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.