Just a week ago, the Lakers fell to the Utah Jazz in Utah thanks to a Derrick Favors putback dunk with two seconds remaining. The loss was the Lakers fourth in a row and things have gotten no better since, as the Lakers have now lost six straight games.
Tonight, the Lakers look to get back on track against the Jazz at Staples Center and this time the Lakers will have Pau Gasol on the floor. The game is the third of a four game home stand for the Lakers, but it will be their first since Jordan Farmar suffered his second torn hamstring of the season.
The Jazz have a stud in center Derrick Favors. He is an absolute monster, especially on the boards and he dominated the Lakers in their last meeting with 14 rebounds including the final offensive rebound and dunk to win the game for the Jazz.
Pau Gasol being on the floor will make a big difference as he is more of an offensive threat than Kaman, even though the latter did have a good game against the Jazz last week. It will be very important for Gasol to attack Favors on the offensive end as he is the Jazz’s best interior defender and if Gasol can get him in foul trouble, the Jazz will suffer.
Two veterans, Marvin Williams and Richard Jefferson, serve as the other front court starters. They are both capable of hitting open three-pointers if left open, but struggle to create their own shots. Defensively they are solid, but not spectacular.
Shawne Williams will most likely be one forward for the Lakers and he has played better as of late. Particularly his rebounding has improved and his length makes him a decent defender. Wesley Johnson will be back for the Lakers and hopefully he will get his jumper going. If not, Nick Young is sure to continue his play whether he starts or comes off the bench as he has been scoring at nearly an elite level as of late.
The Lakers will start their sixth different player at the point guard position as Kendall Marshall will make his first start for the season. He is an excellent passer and has proven to be capable of hitting open shots. He will have to play major minutes tonight as the Lakers have very few options as far as ballhandlers go.
Rookie Trey Burke has played excellent basketball this season and can beat you either scoring or passing. Marshall will have a tough task in containing Burke as he is excellent at getting to his spots on the court.
Jodie Meeks has the toughest matchup going against Gordon Hayward. Hayward is the Jazz’s best shooter and shot creator, and can also set up his teammates if he doesn’t have the shot himself. He had nine assists against the Lakers last week in addition to his 24 points, five rebounds, and three steals. He is an all-around performer and the Lakers have to do a better job at limiting his impact on the game.
Keys To The Lakers Victory
The Lakers have completely lost their stroke from deep as of late. They hit only seven of their 24 attempts against the Bucks and seven of 23 last week against the Jazz and that number has to rise if the Lakers plan on turning around this losing streak.
The Lakers don’t lack for shooters with Meeks, Johnson, Young, Williams, and Kelly all getting solid minutes, but very rarely do more than one or two of them get hot in the same game. The Lakers need to get back to their shooting at the beginning of the season and that needs to start tonight.
The Lakers lack of defensive rebounding cost them the game last week against the Jazz and that needs to be corrected if they want to get a win. Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter are both big, strong, athletic guys who crash the offensive glass every time a shot goes up and the Lakers have to put a body on them.
The Jazz are one of the better offensive rebounding teams in the league and the Lakers have struggled to keep teams off the glass at times this season. It is imperative, especially for Gasol, Williams and the rest of the Lakers bigs to put a body on Favors and the rest of the Jazz frontcourt.
The Lakers are not great at taking care of the ball, but they are even worse at creating turnovers. As a team who wants to run and get out in the open court, the Lakers must improve on this aspect of their game and what better place to start than against a team with a rookie point guard.
With the rookie, Burke, as well as Hayward assuming the bulk of ball handling duties, the Lakers need to find a way to step it up on defense and get themselves some easy layups and dunks that will get the team and crowd excited.
Utah Jazz (11-24) @ Los Angeles Lakers (13-19)
7:30 PM PST, January 3, 2013
Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
TV: Time Warner Cable SportsNet
Radio: 710 ESPN (English)/ 1330 ESPN (Spanish)
Jazz Projected Starting Line-up
PG: Trey Burke
SG: Gordon Hayward
SF: Richard Jefferson
PF: Marvin Williams
C: Derrick Favors
Key Reserves: C: Enes Kanter G: Alec Burks SF: Jeremy Evans
Lakers Projected Starting Line-up
PG: Kendall Marshall
SG: Jodie Meeks
SF: Wesley Johnson or Nick Young
PF: Shawne Williams
C: Pau Gasol
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