The Los Angeles Lakers took on and lost to the Utah Jazz a week ago, and despite hosting this rematch, their chances aren’t looking much better this time around due to a somehow-worsening injury situation.
L.A. was already without Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram in the last matchup, a reality that doesn’t look set to change with Ingram already being declared out and Ball listed as questionable.
Without those two, Kyle Kuzma did his best to carry the Lakers to a competitive bout with the Jazz last week, but he’s also been listed as questionable due to sustaining another ankle sprain in Friday’s loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
If Kuzma can’t go, the Lakers are going to be in an even bigger hole scoring-wise than they were last time against the Jazz. It’s an issue further exacerbated by the fact that Utah has posted the second-best defensive efficiency in the NBA this season and is one of nine teams left fighting for the best positioning in eight playoff spots.
Working against the Jazz is that they’ve spent the dreaded two off days in Los Angeles after blasting the Clippers on Thursday. Sometimes games on Sunday, especially when they’re early, can be favorable to the Lakers. But with Utah playing for their postseason lives and may have been strong enough to avoid partaking in the wealth of entertainment options L.A. has to offer.
The Lakers, on the other hand, have no such postseason incentive to play for, but it’s inaccurate to say they have nothing to motivate them. L.A. has talked about wanting to play ‘Grinch’ to other teams’ playoff hopes down the stretch, and looking at their projected starting lineup is to eye four prospective free agents and Josh Hart. Their bench also features players fighting for their NBA futures.
But while the Lakers don’t have a shortage of motivation for the stretch run, they may simply not have the requisite talent level to beat a healthy and motivated Jazz team. This one could get ugly, fast.
Los Angeles Lakers (34-45) Vs Utah Jazz (46-33):
3:00 P.M. PST, April 3, 2018
Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
TV: Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM (ESPN)/1330 KWKW (Spanish)
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: Alex Caruso
SG: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
SF: Josh Hart
PF: Julius Randle
C: Brook Lopez
Key Reserves: Tyler Ennis, Ivica Zubac, Travis Wear, Gary Payton II
Projected Jazz Starting Lineup:
PG: Ricky Rubio
SG: Donovan Mitchell
SF: Joe Ingles
PF: Derrick Favors
C: Rudy Gobert
Key Reserves: Jae Crowder, Dante Exum, Jonas Jerebko, Royce O’Neale
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