For the 2nd time in 6 days the Lakers face the Jazz, this time in Utah. The last matchup was a low scoring affair plagued by some horrid Lakers’ shooting (29-89 from the field) and played at the Jazz’s pace. Further, that game saw both Kobe and D’Angelo Russell sit out, so the Lakers were also shorthanded with Anthony Brown and Marcelo Huertas filling in as best they could, but without a lot of results to show for it (save for some solid defense from Brown).
Tonight, the Lakers will be more healthy than they were last week, but will now be without Brandon Bass who is still nursing a sore foot. Tarik Black will hopefully step in for Bass as the backup C and will look to build on his solid performance against the Warriors on Thursday. Considering I’d like to see more of Black, I’m interested in seeing how he performs, though I’d prefer it weren’t because of Bass being injured.
That said, Black — and the rest of the frontcourt — will be going up against a Jazz frontline that is also dealing with injuries. Derrick Favors (back) and Trevor Booker (concussion) are both unlikely to play, which leaves rookie Trey Lyles starting at PF and only Jeff Withey and Tibor Pleiss as the legitimate bigs behind Gobert. Odds are the Jazz will need to play small with Joe Ingles and/or Chris Johnson logging minutes at PF when Lyles is out of the game.
The Lakers, then, should look to be aggressive on the backboards and in attacking the paint to make the Jazz Centers help in order to open up other slashing lanes and putback chances. The hope will be Nance, Randle, and Black can then take advantage by getting some easier baskets at the rim.
On the wing, Russell’s return should help provide some balance to the 2nd unit which was lacking the last time these teams played. I’d like to see him attack Trey Burke in the P&R and even get into the post a little bit to try and take advantage of his height advantage. If Russell can get some shots from in-close, it may get the rest of his offense going and lead to more success with his outside shot.
Lastly, I’ll be interested in seeing how Anthony Brown does defensively. While his boxscore stats have not impressed, Brown has fared well in traditional plus/minus and a key reason is that when he’s in the game the Lakers defend better than when he’s on the bench. The Jazz have both Gordon Hayward and Rodney Hood on the wing and Brown will likely see time on both. How he manages — especially against Hayward — will be one of the games within the games worth paying attention to.
Where you can watch: 6:00pm start time on TWC Sportsnet. Also listen on ESPN Radio 710AM Los Angeles.