After a loss to the Bulls on Sunday the Lakers will look to rebound against the Utah Jazz who sit right below them in the Western Conference basement. The Lakers struggles are well documented here at LakersNation and in large part it’s been a result of their injuries. Eight players on the Lakers roster caught the injury bug this season and they lead the league in total missed games. Meanwhile the Jazz were expected to struggle this year and are par for the course; however, they just knocked off the Miami Heat so their confidence will be sky high coming into tonight’s game.
Frontcourt: The Jazz have been playing with a small line-up since they shifted Enes Kanter to the bench. Marvin Williams starts at the power forward position and he’s the prototypical stretch four who loves his three-point shot. He leads the team with 1.6 threes per game and is on a recent hot streak of three consecutive 20 points games. He’s also made 11 three-pointers in his last three games.
Derrick Favors has been thrust into a large role on this squad and has shown mixed results. While he’s averaging 13.2 points and 9.2 boards he has struggled in his last two games since returning from a hip injury. He’s a potential double-double threat on any given night due to his insane length and athleticism, but he lacks polish and has had trouble consistently scoring in the paint. Kaman should take it to Favors early and use his veteran prowess to wear the Jazz center down.
Backcourt: Former Butler star, Gordon Hayward, is the most complete player on the Jazz roster. He’s also the most important player and is undoubtedly their star. Gordon leads the team with 16.3 points, 5 assists and 5.5 rebounds. In addition he’s always assigned the task of guarding the opposing team’s best guard. Without Gordon the Jazz would probably only have half the number of wins they have now.
Point guard duties have been split between rookie Trey Burke and third year player Alec Burks. Alec is the better scorer while Trey makes a more concerted effort to get the other teammates involved. Trey is also a bit undersized and can be a liability on defense so the Lakers should look to attack the rookie when he’s on the court.
Richard Jefferson rounds out the Jazz backcourt and he provides a steady veteran presence. Jefferson has been surprisingly healthy all season and has provided a scoring spark from beyond the arc where he is the team’s most efficient three-point shooter at 42.9%.
Keys to Lakers’ Victory:
Balanced Defense: The Jazz have very balanced team scoring and seven players on their roster average double digit points. The Lakers will need to give a concerted effort on defense and pay attention to every Jazz player on the floor. A few too many missed assignments could spell doom for the Lakers.
Out-Rebound The Jazz: Jazz are not a great rebounding team, but the Lakers have been downright abysmal lately. The Lakers have the worst rebounding differential in the league and are out-rebounded by 6.4 rebounds per game. This is something that needs to change immediately if the Lakers hope to earn any W’s. Securing defensive boards should be their first priority. When Kaman and Hill play more than Sacre and Kelly the Lakers tend to do decently in rebounding.
Kaman and Hill sounds like Kenan and Kel the teen comedy duo, but I digress. I touched on this a bit in the second key, but would like to emphasize that Kaman and Hill need to get more minutes than Sacre and Kelly. Kaman and Hill are superior defenders, effective rebounders and efficient scorers. The Lakers just won’t win many games if they’re outrebounded and outscored in the paint every game. Coach D’Antoni has things backwards and should actually start Kaman and Hill with Kelly and Sacre supporting off the bench. To Coach’s credit Kaman and Hill actually played more minutes than Kelly and Sacre last game and the Lakers tied the Bulls in rebounding. In previous games the Lakers have been consistently out-rebounded by ten boards.
Heading into tonight’s game, the Lakers are -2 against the Jazz via Sportsbook
Utah Jazz (17-33) at Los Angeles Lakers (18-33)
7:30 PM PST, February 11, 2014
Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
TV: TWC SN
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)
Jazz Projected Starting Lineup
PG: Trey Burke
SG: Gordon Hayward
SF: Richard Jefferson
PF: Marvin Williams
C: Derrick Favors
Key Reserves: F: Jeremy Evans SG: Alec Burks C: Enes Kanter
Lakers Projected Starting Lineup
PG: Steve Nash
SG: Steve Blake
SF: Wes Johnson
PF: Shawne Williams
C: Chris Kaman
Lakers vs. Bulls: Kendall Marshall On Steve Nash Injury and Kaman’s Performance