Preview: Lakers (18-33) vs. Jazz (17-33)

February 10, 2014 — 7:30 PM (PST)
STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA
TV: TWC SportsNet / TWC SportsNet Deportes
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)

The Lakers continue their 3-game home series before the All-Star break to play vs. Utah Jazz. This game feature two bottom-dwelling teams who find themselves destined for a high pick in the loaded 2014 NBA Draft.

Despite playing vs. a very shorthanded Bulls team on Sunday, the Lakers could not quite get over the hump after a 4th quarter comeback attempt.

In Sunday’s game, C Chris Kaman, scored 27 points and grabbed 10 rebounds as he led the Lakers throughout the game. That’s right, the same Chris Kaman who Head Coach Mike D’Antoni has benched for reasons only known to him. Arguably one of the most fundamentally skilled big man in the game, the former all-star Kaman could have actually helped the Lakers stay afloat throughout this season so Laker Nation would not have had to witness the current atrocity the Lakers currently sit themselves in.

Well, they unfortunately witness a team that currently sits in 13th place in the Western Conference only ahead of the Jazz and Sacramento Kings.

We can criticize D’Antoni for a lot of things, but we will wait to speak on that in another conversation.

Anyways, PG Steve Nash currently stands in a dicey situation once again, as he left Sunday’s game as a precaution to his nerve irritation issues. Nash practiced Monday and is currently slated to play tonight vs. Jazz.

“It’s a little irritated, the nerve, but I’m hoping I can be better tomorrow and can play,” Nash told ESPNLA.com’s Dave McMenamin.

Hopefully Nash’s nerve irritation will not flare up again tomorrow and in the future as he has done everything he could to recover from his injury issues when nobody else would have.

The Jazz’s season has been one to forget for them also. After going 43-39 last season and slightly missing the playoffs, the Jazz decided to completely rebuild, letting key players like C Al Jefferson and current All-Star PF Paul Millsap go via free-agency. Jazz F Gordan Hayward leads this rebuilding team, having a very solid season showcasing his all-around talents scoring a very solid 16.3 PPG, grabbing 5.5 RPG, and dishing out 5.0 APG this season. Jazz’s prized rookie PG Trey Burke who averages 12.7 PPG and 5.5 APG, will be questionable tonight vs. Lakers due to a score back. although he shot 3-15 vs the Lakers during their last meeting, Burke definitely has the potential to torch the Lakers tonight with his scoring ability.

Projected Starters

PG - Trey Burke / Steve Nash [Advantage: Even]
SG - Gordon Hayward / Steve Blake [Advantage: Jazz]
SF - Richard Jefferson / Wesley Johnson [Advantage: Even]
PF - Marvin Williams / Shawne Williams [Advantage: Even]
C - Derrick Favors Chris Kaman [Advantage: Jazz]

Notable Bench Players

Jazz: G Alec Burks, F Jeremy Evans, PG John Lucas III, C Enes Kanter
Lakers: F Jordan Hill, Robert Sacre, F Ryan Kelly, PG Kendall Marshall

Bench Advantage: Lakers

Injury List

Jazz: Questionable-PG Trey Burke
Lakers: Out-G Kobe Bryant, , Out-PG Steve Blake, Out-G Xavier Henry, Out-C Pau Gasol, Out-PG Jordan Farmar Out-PG Jodie Meeks, Probable-PG Steve Nash

Keys for Lakers Victory

Feed the Big: The Lakers currently have only 9 healthy players at this current moment. Currently their most productive player, Chris Kaman just scored 27 points vs. a stout Bulls defense led by All-Star C Joakim Noah and PF Taj Gibson. in fact, Kaman actually leads current active Lakers in scoring per 36 minutes, scoring 19.5 PPG in that span. Jazz starting C Derrick Favors is talented, but small, so hopefully the Lakers and coach D’Antoni can take advantage of the mismatch in the post, resulting in more wide-open three-pointers and conserving the legs of Lakers players.

Bottom Line

Regardless of the talks of tanking, the Lakers have to continue to play every game with a lot of effort and execute on both ends of the floor. Most of the players on the floor currently do not play only for the Lakers, but also seek to impress General Managers and Scouts throughout the NBA to receive their next contracts. Despite the pessimism going into this game after losing vs. Bulls, the Lakers should have enough firepower to squeak past the Jazz to gain momentum until they have to play vs. F Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Prediction

Lakers: 103-98