The Utah Jazz (12-9) face off again against the LA Lakers (10-12) for the second time of the season tonight, this time in the Staples Center in LA. Last time the Jazz played the Lakers, it was the second game of the season and the home opener. Despite dropping the season opener at Portland, the Jazz pulled through and beat the Lakers 96-89 behind 23 points by George Hill and a 13/13/4 points/rebounds/blocks game from Rudy.
Derrick Favors played in that game too, coming off the bench to get 15 and 8 with two blocks. Oh, how times have changed: neither Hill nor Favors will be playing today. Instead, we have Gordon Hayward scoring 31 or more in his last three games.
On the flip side, the Lakers fought the Conley-and-Randolph-less Grizzlies to an excruciatingly close 100-103 loss, behind Lou Williams’ 40 points (!!) but let Troy Daniels (??) drop 31. More highlights!
But, given it was the Lakers and Grizzlies, between the two teams, only 5 points were scored in the last 2 and a half minutes, and no one scored in the last 51 seconds. With Lou Williams, D’Angelo Russell, and even Nick Young on the team, you would think that the Lakers would have gotten points somehow.
What, you say? The Lakers have a few players out due to injuries?
Unfortunately for them, yes, they do:
- D’Angelo “D’video” Russell (knee)
- Jose “Old Man Ocho” Calderon (right hamstring strain)
- Larry “Dunks like his dad” Nance (right knee contusion)
- Nick “Defensive stopper (!!?!)” Young (calf)
We all know that the Jazz have Hill, Faves, and Burks out, but for once we can’t say that we have fewer injuries to our team. We are missing more starters, though, so let’s take a look at the lineups.
- Dante Exum vs. Jordan Clarkson
- Rodney Hood vs. Brandon Ingram
- Gordon Hayward vs. Luol Deng
- Boris Diaw vs. Julius Randle
- Rudy Gobert vs. Timofey Mozgov
Marquee Matchup: Dante Exum vs Lou Williams
Lou Williams is the leading scorer for the Lakers, getting 17.5 PPG despite not starting a single game. Dante Exum is a young, upstart defender who is recovering from a terrible ACL tear. Now, even though Lou Williams likely will come off of the bench, Quin Snyder likely will match up Dante onto Lou to neutralize the discrepancy in speed and give the Jazz length to recover. Dante will have his hands full this game, especially with George Hill out, but his defense will be crucial in getting this Jazz win.
X-Factor: Brandon Ingram
Here we have the 2nd pick of the 2016 draft, 6’ 9”, playing shooting guard for the Lakers. We get that he’s skinnier than most toothpicks, but if Rodney Hood (6’ 8”) weren’t oversized already, Ingram most definitely is. Ingram is only averaging 8 PPG and 3 RPG on the season, and only scored 2 points in the first game against the Jazz. Will this be his breakout game?
Prediction: JAZZ WIN
Amazingly, the Lakers will be missing two of their three top players by win shares (Larry Nance Jr, 1.4; Nick Young, 1.3). The Jazz are missing one (George Hill, 2.1). Even though the Lakers are favored from +2 to +6 points, the Jazz should be able to pull this one out.