Showtime: 7:30pm PT
Plot: Somehow, with only a few days down in 2014, the Los Angeles Lakers season is in serious jeopardy.
The Show meets the Jazz at STAPLES Center in a rematch from last Friday's game in Utah. The Jazz prevailed 105-103, with the Lakers failing to come up with a stop with just seconds left on the game clock. Derrick Favors slammed home the game-winning basket, with the Show failing to box out against one of the team's best rebounders. Utah didn't play particularly great against LA, though guards Trey Burke and Gordon Hayward were extremely effective against the usually ineffective Lakers perimeter defense.
Meanwhile, the Lakers have had one of their worst weeks in recent memory. They've since lost to two of the weakest road teams in the NBA, the Philadelphia 76ers and Milwaukee Bucks, as well as lost their third and fifth string point guards to injury. With Jordan Farmar and Xavier Henry on the shelf with leg problems, Kendall Marshall will most likely start at the 1-guard for the Lakers, an amazing string of events considering how just two weeks ago the former lottery pick had a locker in Delaware. This new starting line-up will amazingly be LA's 18th different five-man group of the year. Rotation players Wesley Johnson and Chris Kaman should both be returning after being inactive for Tuesday's game versus Milwaukee, so the Lakers will theoretically have more talent on the floor.
It's hard to say what the Lakers have to do to win this game because...I don't know who this team is. I've been spouting for weeks that they need to establish some continuity with their point guards--of tantamount importance in Mike D'Antoni's world--though that goal has been damn near impossible with all the injuries. Without that, the Lakers haven't been able to get anything going offensively, a problem that should continue while Marshall learns how to play with his new teammates. Jodie Meeks or Nick Young will most likely perform back-up PG duties, a tactic which could stall the Los Angeles scoring attack. Whoever is in will need to do a much better job at trying to stop Hayward, Burke and reserve guard Alec Burks, as they really ignite what Utah tries to do offensively.
Looking ahead towards the month of January, the Lakers are in for a very tough slate. Aside from one home game against Cleveland, this home contest against Utah might be their least challenging game in the next four weeks. If the Lakers cannot take this game, their losing streak could easily extend into double-digits. Yikes. Especially at home, LA needs to grab this win.
But then again, after the week they've had, I'm not so sure how assured anyone should be of these Lakers being able to beat anyone.
--Follow this author @TheGreatMambino