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NBA Preseason: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Utah Jazz Game Preview

Yeah, yeah, Hill's not on the team anymore . . . this is a pic from last pre-season
Yeah, yeah, Hill's not on the team anymore . . . this is a pic from last pre-season
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Back on Sunday the Utah Jazz defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 90-71 (Game PreviewGame ThreadGame RecapGame Chasedown). It was a game where Kobe Bryant received lots of encouragement from a partisan crowd as he played 12 minutes and shot 1 for 5. He didn't do anything besides shoot, zero rebounds, zero assists, zero steals, zero blocks. Simply legendary. Utah had a balanced attack that started with defense, and in the second half the good guys ran away with it. Gordon Hayward led the Jazz in minutes with 28, and Lou Williams led the Lakers with 27. I don't expect Bryon Scott or Quin Snyder to push anyone past 30 tonight, though I do expect both to tinker with their lineups a little bit.

The game tonight is at 12:00 AM Eastern, which is tomorrow. I'm clearly not going to watch this game live -- I'm no longer young enough to be up that late watching TV. The 10:00 PM start in the mountain time zone isn't early either, either way you can watch the game on NBA TV or ROOT Sports. (Or listen to it on the radio at 1280 AM, or 97.5 FM.)

If the game is going to be anything like the first one it will have to start with who is and is not playing. No Dante Exum (left ACL surgery) for the Jazz. No Grant Jerrett (right shoulder surgery rehab) either. Chris Johnson, who missed the first game due to a concussion, should be good to go tonight. For the bad guys no Marcelo Huertas (strained right hamstring), and Anthony Brown (shoulder strain), and Jabari Brown (right hand contusion) are both questionable. D'Angelo Russell, who played 21 minutes in game one and finished with 5 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1 steal, is probable, but has a bruised right foot. If he doesn't play that means than Jordan Clarkson returns to the PG spot, Coach Scott had him start at shooting guard in their first preseason game despite having both Lou Williams, Nick Young, and Kobe Bryant all available -- and no PG depth with the Huertas injury.

One thing the fans who stay up that late don't want to see is a repeat of the poor shooting. The Lakers shot 28.9 fg%, and the Jazz didn't fare much better hitting on only 37.0 fg%. Both teams stunk it up from deep, with Utah going 2 for 15 (13.3%), and LA being so much better at 6 for 23 (26.1%). I get that players are not used to play at game speed, and there could be some rust. (Particularly for Kobe, Alec Burks, and Rodney Hood -- all coming off long injuries) But what's the excuse for everyone else? Trey Burke shot 0 for 4 from deep despite starting off relatively hot in the game.

Either guys are missing shots they normally make, or the defense was amped for both sides in game one. (The two teams combined for 10 blocks and 27 turn overs)

On paper the Jazz seem to have a more effective core, one that has been together for longer. Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, and Rudy Gobert are all effective in so many ways and proved it against the Lakers. Rookie power forward Julius Randle will be good, but right now he and bigman Roy Hibbert haven't quite gelled yet. And that's normal. They did collect 17 rebounds and swatted two shots, but on the other side of the ball went a collective 3 for 15. It'll take some time.

Lou and Nick were effective off the bench, totaling 24 points of reserve firepower. Most teams will not be able to counter that.The Jazz mitigated some of the damage by having everyone score. It's easy when you are looking for the pass, which is what Raul Neto, Gordon Hayward, Alec Burks, and Trey Burke did in game one. Those four guys managed 16 assists. That was 4 more than the entire Lakers squad.

If we see that again tonight I think the Jazz have a good shot at winning -- regardless of who is playing. Both teams had four DNP-CDs from the first game. I expect half of those guys to get a chance tonight, if not more. We should see Bryce Cotton tonight, either taking 15+ minutes away from Neto and Burke, or having one of those two have the night off.

Ultimately, though, if the Jazz are going to win it's not going to be about bench points, it's going to be about defense. These pseudo-Lakers weren't ready in game one and missed a lot of shots. The Jazz MADE them miss those shots. They were disruptive in the passing lanes and on the ball, and won the hustle stats. If they play with that hunger tonight, and keep up the defensive pressure it could be another win.

I don't think that Coach Scott is going to play his best players enough to dig out a win. He has no reason to. And both coaches have to get some data on the end of bench guys that they can sent over to their General Managers. Tonight could be that night.

Remember, the game starts at 10:00 pm MT, and you can catch it on ROOT Sports or NBA TV!