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Los Angeles Lakers at Utah Jazz Game Preview

Where’s your Kobe now?

NBA: Utah Jazz at Los Angeles Lakers Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time in twenty years the Lakers are coming to Utah without Kobe Bryant. Sadly, this may be to their advantage. In their first game of the season, the Lakers beat the Rockets 120 to 114. The Jazz will find out whether that was the Rocket’s wet toilet paper defensive scheme or actual offensive fire power. Either way, the Jazz need to bring the lock-down defense we’ve come to expect under Quin Snyder and Rudy Gobert.

Word is that Derrick Favors went through practice...

David Locke has mentioned a few times recently that he spoke with Derrick and he felt positive about his most recent workouts. Andy Larsen of KSL said. “I might even say it’s likely he plays tomorrow, though we won’t know for sure until the game.”

Let’s hope Derrick is ready to go. We missed his production last game with Boris Diaw, Trey Lyles and Jeff Withey combining for 7 points and 6 rebounds on 3/14 shooting. And his defensive prowess will help stem the Lakers potentially potent offense.

Projected Starters:

  • Point Guard: D’Angelo Russell vs. George Hill
  • Shooting Guard: Nick Young vs. Rodney Hood
  • Small Forward: Luol Deng vs. Joe Johnson
  • Power Forward: Julius Randle vs. Derrick Favors
  • Center: Timofey Mozgov vs. Rudy Gobert

Marquee Match-Up: D’Angelo Russell vs. George Hill

Utah Jazz v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Against the Rockets, Russell was excellent scoring 20 points on 16 shots while shooting 40% from three, albeit being guarded by James Harden. After getting torched by Damian Lillard for 39 points, the Jazz have a chance to right the ship against another score first point guard like D’Angelo Russell.

If George Hill can both slow down Russell’s scoring and also be productive on offense, the Jazz will be in good shape.

X-Factor: The Bench

The Jazz will need scoring and defense from Boris Diaw, Trey Lyles and Dante Exum. Against the Blazers, the Jazz Bench had a plus minus of: Joe Ingles -9, Trey Lyles -12, Shelvin Mack -10, Jeff Withey -11 and Dante Exum -18 (not ideal) while the starters had a positive plus minus for the most part. This was the story of last season and, even though the Jazz are experiencing injuries, the Jazz new depth needs to come through. If Favors does play, that should be a huge help allowing Boris and Trey to be matched up mostly against second unit players.

The Lakers also have Jordan Clarkson coming off the bench who scored 25 points against the Rockets on 8/12 shooting. Dante Exum will need to show up and slow down the Lakers’ talented young guard.

Prediction: Jazz win big.

The Lakers are young and exciting and should be a fun watch for all the Jazz fans in blue, but the Jazz have an advantage at every position and should handle the Lakers pretty easily.