The Los Angeles Lakers dropped their third game in four at home last night with a 101-92 loss to the Toronto Raptors. It was a rough night for the Lakers starters as four of five failed to get into double-digits. It was instead the bench which kept the team in it, as Julius Randle and rookie Kyle Kuzma combined for 33 points and 15 rebounds. Meanwhile, Lonzo Ball continued to struggle with his shot as he went just 2-of-7 for five points.
On the other side, the Utah Jazz will be looking to bounce back after back-to-back road defeats to the Los Angeles Clippers and the Phoenix Suns. Even though Rodney Hood returned against the Suns, the Jazz struggled offensively as they shot just 42 percent from the floor. Their bench, in particular, could only muster nine points on 3-of-18 shooting.
Three keys to the game
Lonzo Ball – Ball’s offensive struggles are becoming concerning. He’s now shooting below 30 percent on the season and has failed to score over eight points in four of his first five games. Ball is still getting his assists, but the Lakers offense won’t be nearly as effective if teams can basically ignore him on defense. This matchup with the slow-paced Jazz will be another tough test for him and his ability to orchestrate the Lakers’ half-court offense.
Jazz offense – Utah have similar offensive problems at the moment. Rubio remains a problematic shooter, while he and Hood aren’t enough as top offensive options along the perimeter. Their defense should be able to limit the Lakers, but they still need the likes of Donovan Mitchell and Joe Johnson to provide more scoring punch off the bench.
Battle of the boards – The battle of the boards will be crucial for the Jazz. They got pounded by Phoenix, 55-44, which included 16 offensive rebounds for the Suns. They need to prevent giving an inefficient Lakers offense more opportunities to score.
Matchup to watch
Lonzo Ball vs Ricky Rubio – If anyone knows about the shooting struggles Ball is currently going through, it’s Rubio. But instead of sympathy, Rubio needs to take advantage of the rookie if the Jazz want to snap their losing skid. Meanwhile, Ball will need to find a way to remain effective against a tough Utah defense.
Lakers projected starting lineup
PG – Lonzo Ball | SG – Kentavious Caldwell-Pope | SF – Brandon Ingram | PF – Larry Nance Jr. | C – Brook Lopez
Jazz projected starting lineup
PG – Ricky Rubio | SG – Rodney Hood | SF – Joe Ingles | PF – Derrick Favors | C – Rudy Gobert
Rodney Hood had a fine game on his return from a calf strain as he put up 22 points against the Phoenix Suns. The Jazz will have to lean heavily on him to provide offensive firepower, and he’ll have an ideal matchup to have another productive game against the Lakers’ iffy perimeter defense.
The Lakers offense is clearly struggling at the moment. They were held to just 92 points last night by the Raptors and will be on the second night of a back-to-back. The Jazz will look to play slow and grind the young Lakers out, so expect a low-scoring affair. Take the total to go under 203.5.
The Jazz snap their mini-skid with a 97-88 home win.
This game will be broacast at AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain and Spectrum SportsNet. Tip-off at Salt Lake City is at 9:00 pm ET.
Want to share your opinion? Why not Write For Us?