After a hard fought — and closer than expected — game against the Thunder on Friday, the Lakers are back in action tonight against the Jazz at Staples. The team will be shorthanded, however, with multiple key players out of the lineup:
Status change for Kobe Bryant, who is now out due to a right Achilles strain. Brandon Bass (eye) and D'Angelo Russell (ankle) are also out.
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) January 10, 2016
Kobe is a late scratch, but Bass was already doubtful and Russell was ruled out after he was unable to finish the game after trying to play against OKC with the roughed up ankle from the sprain he suffered against the Kings.
With three of the Lakers 9 rotation players out, it will be interesting to see how Byron compensates. (Note, it is unclear if Tarik Black or Ryan Kelly are even in Los Angeles as I read a report that they were supposed to play for the D-Fenders in Santa Cruz today as part of the D-League Showcase). Odds are Anthony Brown and Nick Young will see a load of minutes and that Marcelo Huertas will also see time as a backup PG.
If Black is not available, it will be interesting to see if Sacre is used or if Nance sees some minutes at C. The Jazz are a big team — Gobert is back from injury and two 7 footers in Tibor Pleiss and Jeff Withey backing him up, so I’d expect Sacre to get burn. But trying to speed up the game with a Nance/Randle pairing might do some good, especially since the Jazz play at the slowest pace in the league. Odds are if the Lakers are content to play at Utah’s tempo, they will get hammered down low.
The main key for this game, though, will be how the Lakers deal with the Jazz’s perimeter players. Or, at least, how they deal with Gordon Hayward. The SF is one of the better players in the league and gives the Lakers fits every time they see him. Anthony Brown has good size, but will likely be tested by Hayward’s craftiness — especially when navigating screens, both off the ball and in the P&R.
Lastly, the Lakers will need to manage their defensive backboards. If Favors plays (he is questionable), he and Gobert go hard to the offensive glass and both are successful at it. Nance, Hibbert, and later, Randle will all need to work hard on the glass to box out with the perimeter players helping down in the paint to secure rebounds. The Lakers’ guards are good on the glass, but they’ll need to give even more effort tonight.
Where you can watch: 6:30pm start time on TWC Sportsnet. Also listen on ESPN Radio 710AM Los Angeles.