Crushing headaches do not mix with writing game previews. This is something I knew already, but am reminded of today as I try to type words onto a white screen reflecting light which might as well be Shinobi ninja stars being guided right into my eyeballs.
So, forgive the brevity.
The Lakers play the Jazz tonight in a return to Staples Center. After going 1-3 on a road trip which saw them play those four contests in five nights, the team is back in action after only a day off. The “rest” may help, but I doubt it. The first game back from a road trip can often be just like another road game. Players have to settle in, attempt to get back to their regular routines, and then get right back on the court to play basketball again. At least they get to sleep in their own beds.
If the circumstances didn’t affect them, though, tonight’s opponent will. The Jazz haven’t jumped out to the type of start indicative of the successful year many predicted for them, but that has mostly been due to injuries and the disconnect of lineups and rotations birthed from them. The Jazz are still a good — and maybe very good — team, but more specifically usually give the Lakers problems.
Derrick Favors bothers Julius Randle. Rudy Gobert’s paint protection and ability to finish above the rim creates problems. George Hill is, you know, good at both offense and defense. Rodney Hood seems to always get up to play the Lakers. Oh, yeah, and they have that Gordon Hayward fellow who should be an all-star.
Meanwhile, the Lakers are banged up. Their starting backcourt is out and Jose Calderon is now out too. Larry Nance is also questionable. If Nance doesn’t play, 4 of the team’s top 11 players will be out. For a team which depends on its depth, that’s bad. Really bad.
This isn’t to say the Lakers have no chance. Being at home should help. If Lou Williams, Jordan Clarkson, and Brandon Ingram can play well, they might have enough offense to keep the game close. If Randle can overcome the issues Favors often gives him, it can be closer still. If Deng and Mozgov also step up and defend their positions well, it may tilt the game in the Lakers’ direction. That’s a lot to ask for, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility.
Where you can watch: 7:30pm start time on TWC Sportsnet.