Tuesday night marks the fourth and final group play game for the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA’s Inaugural In-Season Tournament, and they face the Utah Jazz with a chance to clinch their place in the quarterfinals in Las Vegas in early December.
Plenty is at stake for L.A. in the group play finale on Tuesday. A win would give the Lakers a perfect 4-0 record in Group A, having defeated each of their opponents and cementing their place in the quarterfinals as the winner of the group.
A loss would potentially give the Jazz the group victory, leaving the Lakers to hope for one of the two Wild Card spots that remain after the six group winners. Both the Jazz and Lakers would have a 3-1 record, and head-to-head record in the Tournament is the first tiebreaker. The only thing that could change that is if the Phoenix Suns also finish group play with one loss, then the three-way tiebreaker will be point differential.
Fortunately for the Lakers, they should be close to full strength for the final outing of the group stage. LeBron James and Anthony Davis, both listed on the injury report, are good to go. Jarred Vanderbilt and Gabe Vincent remain out, as they have the last few weeks.
The Jazz are without center Walker Kessler but are otherwise healthy. And the tandem of Lauri Markkanen and Jordan Clarkson have been sizzling hot during the In-Season Tournament.
Markkanen has 26, 21 and 21 points, respectively, in his first three games of the tournament, while Clarkson has posted 26, 30 and 37. Clarkson is averaging less than Markkanen on the season by about five points but has averaged 29.6 points per game in his last five outings.
This puts pressure on not only Davis to keep Markkanen in check, but also on the Lakers guards to ensure that Clarkson doesn’t have another monster game. The Jazz have a 4-9 record this season but have proven that anything can happen in a one-off game with a 2-1 record in the tournament.
The Lakers have won five of their last six and are looking to keep the success rolling while securing their place in the knockout stages of the In-Season Tournament.
Los Angeles Lakers (8-6) vs. Utah Jazz (4-9)
7:00 p.m. PT, Nov. 21, 2023
Crypto.com Arena, Los Angeles, California
Radio: 710 AM ESPN LA
Projected Lakers starting lineup:
PG: D’Angelo Russell
SG: Cam Reddish
SF: Taurean Prince
PF: LeBron James
C: Anthony Davis
Key Reserves: Austin Reaves, Rui Hachimura, Christian Wood
Projected Jazz starting lineup:
PG: Jordan Clarkson
SG: Keyontae George
SF: Ochai Agjabi
PF: Lauri Markkanen
C: John Collins
Key Reserves: Collin Sexton, Kelly Olynyk, Talen Horton-Tucker, Simone Fontecchio
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