Lakers Vs. Jazz Preview: LeBron James Out Against Hottest Team In NBA
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers are heading out on the road for one game as they take on the Utah Jazz on Saturday evening. After coming off a heavy road schedule in December, L.A. takes a quick trip to Utah before returning to Crypto.com Arena for a four-game homestand.

This is the second meeting between these two teams as they met earlier in the season for In-Season Tournament group play. It was back on Nov. 21 when the purple and gold handled the Jazz with a 131-99 wire-to-wire win. However, this is set to be a much different game this time around.

Utah is currently on a four-game winning streak, three being quality wins against the Philadelphia 76ers, Milwaukee Bucks and Denver Nuggets. When the Lakers saw them last, they were 4-10 and now find themselves at .500 with a 20-20 record.

In this matchup, L.A. is getting back Rui Hachimura after missing the last five games with a calf strain as well as Christian Wood, who missed last game with a migraine.

LeBron James was ruled out, however, as the left ankle peroneal tendinopathy that he has been dealing with is keeping him from being able to play.

Cam Reddish and D’Angelo Russell were listed as questionable, but they are able to play and are in the starting lineup.

Without James in the lineup, other guys like Hachimura, Austin Reaves and Russell need to step up offensively for the Lakers.

The Jazz are led by Lauri Markkanen, Jordan Clarkson and Collin Sexton in the scoring department. Those are the three for the Lakers defense to key in on, so expect Anthony Davis to match up with Markkanen at times. If Sexton and Clarkson get going from 3-point range, it can be a long night as Utah is coming off 21 made 3s against the Toronto Raptors on Friday.

L.A.’s 3-point defense has been poor as of late due to over-helping and leaving shooters wide open. Things like that have to be tidied up if the Lakers want to pull this one out. Jarred Vanderbilt and Reddish could see some time against Clarkson and Sexton as they need to force the Jazz guards into tough shots early and often.

Due to the Lakers being in the bottom half of 3-point percentage, they cannot let their opponents burn them from distance. This will be another test for the Lakers as they take on another streaking team in a hostile environment.

Tagged as a rebuilding team, Utah is 13-5 at home, while the Lakers have struggled to find consistency away from home as they are 6-13. Without James in the lineup, it only gets tougher for the scuffling Lakers.

Los Angeles Lakers (19-20) vs. Utah Jazz (20-20)

6:30 p.m. PT, Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024
Delta Center, Salt Laker City, Utah
TV: Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM ESPN LA

Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:

PG: D’Angelo Russell
SG: Austin Reaves
SF: Taurean Prince
PF: Cam Reddish
C: Anthony Davis

Key Reserves: Rui Hachimura, Jarred Vanderbilt, Christian Wood, Max Christie

Projected Jazz Starting Lineup:

PG: Kris Dunn
SG: Collin Sexton
SF: Simone Fontecchio
PF: John Collins
C: Lauri Markkanen

Key Reserves: Kelly Olynyk, Walker Kessler, Jordan Clarkson, Keyonte George

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