Worst to First (Overall Pick)?: Lakers-Jazz Preview

Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

In a horrible year for both teams, which players will have already thrown in the towel with nothing to play for, and which will play for pride and/or their next contract?

Showtime: 6:00 P.M. PST

It’s a battle of bad, folks. Two teams will enter, only one can suck more: this one is for all the ping pong balls. After getting grit and grinded into paste by the Memphis Grizzlies last night in their last home game of the year, the Los Angeles Lakers head into Utah for the second leg of a home-away back-to-back "hoping for a better result." I put that in quotation marks, because as we all know, the players of this LA outfit will try to win, but most of the fans know that a loss would in actuality be a better result. This is especially the case due to the opponent being the so far more successful at being bad Utah Jazz, who are ahead of the Lakers in the Bizarro standings.

This is one of the few teams in the league that the Lakers have a legitimate shot at beating this year, due to Utah somehow having an even worse defense than LA, the worst defense in the league in fact, giving up 108.9 points per 100 possessions. This is compounded by the fact that their offense is also less efficient than LA's, putting up a rather meek 100.3 offensive rating compared to the Lakers 101.6. Those fans that are still rooting for a win can take heart in these factors.

For the rest of us, humor may be the best medicine to stave off the insanity induced by watching this season, and it might be better to give a rundown of actions that would not be surprising by either team given the potential lottery implications of this game:

· Given the success of Pau Gasol’s vertigo, Mitch Kupchak becomes even more brazen in listing players out with U2 songs, and Jordan Hill misses the game with "Elevation"

· Enes Kanter: Starting point guard.

· Nick Young’s vow not to tank ends up being the optimal tanking strategy, as his barrage of long two attempts while trying to "take over" the game lead to easy baskets in transition for Utah from which LA is unable to recover.

· Gordon Hayward desperately auditions for LA to give him the max, dropping a 30 point triple double, but Utah loses anyway when Tyrone Corbin benches him for the entire 4th quarter after management calls down to the bench

- Assistant Coach Mark Madsen signs a ten day contract and "improves" upon the tank-tastic 7 threes he launched for the lottery pick protecting Minnesota Timberwolves in 2006 by launching 10 for Los Angeles.

There is really no outcome of this game that would surprise most fans who have been punishing themselves by watching every game LA has played this year. On paper, the Jazz probably have more talent than this Lakers squad as currently constituted, but we have also seen much more talented teams than the Jazz, with much more to play hard for, lose to this scrappy purple and gold group when they did not take them seriously enough and come forward with the requisite execution in order to pull out this victory. The one thing that I do know is that after this, there is only one game left until this squad mercifully hangs up their kit for the offseason, when the real fun begins. Hallelujah.

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