Lakers Vs. Jazz Preview: D’Angelo Russell Out In First Game Of Back-To-Back
D'Angelo Russell, Lakers
Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers are getting hot at the right time, playing their best basketball of the season and will look to continue that momentum against the Utah Jazz. The Lakers have won the first three games of their five-game road trip and have now won six of their last seven thanks to Anthony Davis once again being the dominant force he is capable of being. The Jazz have been the opposite, losing six of seven and now find themselves on the outside of the Play-In Tournament.

Davis was named Western Conference Player of the Week thanks to averaging 38.7 points on 65.2% shooting to go along with 11.7 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.0 steals and 2.0 blocks. And there is no reason Davis shouldn’t continue his dominant streak as Utah is without some major pieces up front.

All-Star forward Lauri Markkanen and impressive rookie center Walker Kessler are both out for this game, leaving the Jazz with the likes of Kelly Olynyk and Udoka Azubuike to deal with the Lakers star. Assuming he keeps up his aggressive focus, Davis should be able to control the paint on both ends of the court.

The paint being open should also bode well for LeBron James as he continues to work his way back into form, though he may be more focused on creating for others in this game. Point guard D’Angelo Russell will sit out due to foot soreness, leaving a void in the playmaking department and LeBron, as well as Austin Reaves and Dennis Schroder, will need to step up and ensure things continue to run smoothly.

Russell’s absence is just precautionary according to Darvin Ham, but the foot is obviously bothering him enough to miss a crucial game, via Dave McMenamin of ESPN:

This might be a game circled on the calendar of a pair of former Jazz players in Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt though. Beasley was able to see a couple of threes go down on Sunday and that momentum could easily carry over as he returns to the place where his season began.

But that same mindset applies to some Utah players as well, in particular guard Talen Horton-Tucker. With the Jazz missing multiple players, it has been Horton-Tucker taking on a much bigger offensive workload and he is showing those same signs that made the Lakers have such high hopes for him as well. Over the last three games, Horton-Tucker is averaging 33.7 points, 6.7 assists and 5.3 rebounds and he will undoubtedly be looking to show out against his former team.

The Lakers showed against Houston that they can come out against a lesser team completely focused and dominate from the outset. Against a Jazz team that is also without Jordan Clarkson and Rudy Gay and in addition to Markkanen and Kessler, the Lakers have a clear advantage.

If they continue with this intensity and mindset they have shown on this road trip so far, it should be an easy night for the Lakers. But if they let up against an undermanned opponent, Utah still has enough to make them pay.

Los Angeles Lakers (40-38) vs. Utah Jazz (36-42)

6:00 p.m. PT, April 4, 2023
Vivint Arena, Salt Lake City, Utah
TV: Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM ESPN LA

Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:

PG: Dennis Schroder
SG: Austin Reaves
SF: LeBron James
PF: Jarred Vanderbilt
C: Anthony Davis

Key Reserves: Troy Brown Jr., Rui Hachimura, Malik Beasley, Wenyen Gabriel, Lonnie Walker IV

Projected Jazz Starting Lineup:

PG: Talen Horton-Tucker
SG: Ochai Agbaji
SF: Simone Fontecchio
PF: Juan Toscano-Anderson
C: Kelly Olynyk

Key Reserves: Collin Sexton, Kris Dunn, Udoka Azubuike, Luka Samanic, Damian Jones

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