The Los Angeles Lakers look to extend their winning streak to three when they face the Utah Jazz Friday night.
Coming off a thrilling overtime victory Wednesday night against the New Orleans Pelicans, the Lakers can climb further up in the Western Conference with a victory. With a win, the Lakers would have their first 3-game winning streak since Jan. 4.
Utah is an early surprise of the season with a 6-3 record. Beating them could be an extra boost of confidence going into the weekend.
Anthony Davis was listed as questionable again with a lower back injury is again suiting up. LeBron James is also playing after being listed as probable with a foot injury. Both Davis and LeBron were excused from shootaround Friday for rest with the latter also dealing with an illness.
The Lakers are still without Dennis Schroder and Thomas Bryant because of their respective thumb injuries. On the bright side, Bryant was seen doing some on-court work at shootaround Friday two-and-a-half weeks after surgery.
The Jazz will have practically everyone except Leandro Bolmaro and Micah Potter.
Utah is without familiar faces Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert and Bojan Bogdanovic, of course, but still pose a threat behind a balance of young talent and veterans. In the top 15 in offensive and defensive stats through eight games, they’ve knocked off Memphis, Denver and Minnesota, among others.
The Lakers have to be aware of the extra pass from Utah. The Jazz are second in assist differential — plus 7.8 compared to their opponents. However, they do have the fourth most turnovers a game with 16.6.
Forward Lauri Markkanen is enjoying a breakout start to the season, averaging 21 points and nine rebounds a game. Davis will likely be matched up with Markannan in the frontcourt, who also has Kelly Olynyk on his side to spread the floor.
Guards Jordan Clarkson and Collin Sexton bring explosive scoring, though not often efficient shooting. Making sure Clarkson doesn’t get hot from deep is important. Sexton has only scored 20 points once this season meaning he is due for a breakout game.
Utah has a deep roster with multiple contributors including Mike Conley, Malik Beasley, Jarred Vanderbilt, Rudy Gay and familiar face Talen Horton-Tucker. Team defense has to be a priority with any of these players able to score 20 points. Luckily for the Lakers, they are among the best defensive teams in the league.
However, 3-point shooting continues to be a problem. L.A. is shooting 26.7% from deep and did not sustain their 43% shooting performance from 3 against Denver on Sunday. Until proven wrong, shooting will continue to be a concern for the Lakers.
And Russell Westbrook’s Sixth Man of the Year campaign continues to grow after another strong game. His energy will be crucial Friday night against a Jazz bench that averages 43 points per game — third-best in the league.
A third consecutive win for the Lakers will be imperative for the team’s confidence after a tough start to the season, so hopefully they can keep that momentum going.
Los Angeles Lakers (2-5) vs. Utah Jazz (6-3)
7:30 p.m. PT, November 4, 2022
TV: Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM ESPN LA
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: Patrick Beverley
SG: Lonnie Walker IV
SF: Troy Brown Jr.
PF: LeBron James
C: Anthony Davis
Key Reserves: Russell Westbrook, Kendrick Nunn, Austin Reaves, Damian Jones, Juan Toscano-Anderson, Wenyen Gabriel
Projected Jazz Starting Lineup:
PG: Mike Conley
SG: Jordan Clarkson
SF: Lauri Markkanen
PF: Jarred Vanderbilt
C: Kelly Olynyk
Key Reserves: Malik Beasley, Collin Sexton, Rudy Gay, Talen Horton-Tucker, Walker Kessler, Ochai Agbaji
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