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Lakers at Jazz: 5 Things to Watch For

The Jazz look to avenge Kobe’s last game in this season’s home opener

NBA: Utah Jazz at Los Angeles Lakers
Will the Jazz come out looking like the black mamba or Trey Mamba Lyles?
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

One: Who’s going to score for the Jazz?

Joe Johnson was a maniac for the Jazz in the season opener (29 points, 12/16), but is his production replicable? Meanwhile, Hill did good things, with 19 pts and 6 assists (only 1/6 from three though), pacing the Jazz with 11 first quarter points. Rodney had a great game (26 points, 9/17, 3/7 3pts) as well as this thunderous dunk.

We can probably count on somewhat similar production from these guys given that Gordon Hayward, Alec Burks, and Favors are out (Derrick Favors is expected to play!), but the rest of the team needs to step up - outside of Rudy’s 12 points, the rest of the team scored just 16 against Portland.

Two: The Lakers Guards

NBA: Houston Rockets at Los Angeles Lakers
Tyler Ennis (6) encapsulates how people should feel when they lose to the Lakers. At least it’s the Rockets, though.
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s take a look at the stats accrued by the Lakers guard mob in their 120-114 win (!!) over the Rockets on Wednesday:

  • D’Angelo Russell: 20 pts, 7/16 shooting, 4/10 on 3pt, 3 assists, ± of -5 in 29 minutes
  • Jordan Clarkson: 25 pts, 8/12 shooting, 2/3 on 3pt, 3 rebounds, 3 steals, ± of 6 in 24 minutes
  • Lou Williams: 12 pts, 2/5 shooting, 2/4 on 3pt, 2 assists, 3 steals, ± of 17 (in just 14 minutes)!

Overall, they accounted for about half of the Lakers’ points, and it was clear that Luke Walton wanted his guards to take advantage of their youth and athleticism against the Rockets’ shoddy defense. The Jazz definitely have the defensive-minded guards to counteract the Lakers’ scoring punch in Hill and Exum, but that’s what was said against the Blazers’ guards as well... As with the Blazers, the Jazz’s defensive impetus should be to try to slow down the opposing team’s guards, prevent their role players from getting big (I’m looking at you, Allen Crabbe), and protect the paint.

Three: Jazz Minutes

In the season, opener, Quin Snyder played his starters and really [added onto] their minutes. Rudy Gobert had 40, George Hill 38, Rodney Hood 37, Boris Diaw 32, Joe Johnson 30. But Dante Exum only had 8, and Jeff Withey had 4. Will Quin opt to go with another starter-heavy minute distribution, having had two days off from the season opener? Or will he allow his bench to “develop” a bit more? Here’s hoping that Quin will let Exum especially try to play through his troubles and get some real court time.

Four: The Julius Randle vs. Boris Diaw Matchup

Julius Randle had a great game against the Rockets, with what could be called the “Triple Couple”: 18 pts on 9 of 11 shooting, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists. He actually looked really good on defense, defending James Harden on a few isos in crunch time.

Good contest on Harden’s shot here
Silver Screen and Roll’s Drew Garrison
Randle blocks Harden’s layup attempt
Silver Screen and Roll’s Drew Garrison

Diaw, on the other hand, did not have a very good game. We’ve all seen and heard about his 1 of 8 shooting and 5 fouls at this point. Will he be able to keep up with the young and springy Randle? Speaking of which, Randle also played a few minutes of small ball center. We’ll see how Quin adjusts to that: will Rudy make up for a relative lack of speed with his length, will Diaw play as center a la the Phoenix days, or perhaps we’ll see Trey Lyles at center?

UPDATE: As of writing this Faves is expected to play! We’ll see how (or if) his limited minutes will affect this matchup.

Five: Home Court Advantage

This is the Jazz home opener. With the amount of hype the Jazz have been generating, Jazz Nation (ugh) better be out in full force! Usually there are a gaggle of yellow jerseys in attendance for Jazz games, but let’s not let them every forget that they are in Utah. This is our home. Not theirs. Don’t get into any fights. But let ‘em know.

Denver Nuggets v Utah Jazz, Game 6 Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

#TakeNote, be loud, and be proud.