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Lakers vs. Jazz Preview: No Hayward makes Jazz a great test for LA

The Lakers look to start the year with back-to-back victories. Can they open their road trip with a W?

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Utah Jazz Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers embark on their first road trip of the season, making a stop in Utah to face the Jazz. Gordon Hayward is not expected to play, while Derrick Favors status remains uncertain. He missed the Jazz’s season-opener but went through practice since.

The kids are coming off of a fantastic team win to start the season, surviving a honed-in James Harden. D’Angelo Russell will have a tougher outing with George Hill lining up against him. Joe Johnson scored 29 points top start the year off on the right foot in lieu of Hayward, but the Lakers should be able to control that matchup.

Nick Young, Julius Randle, Brandon Ingram, Larry Nance, Jr. and even Jordan Clarkson should all be tools Luke Walton can use to slow Johnson down. Randle showed flashes of his defensive versatility when he picked up Harden throughout the fourth quarter. He should, in theory, be able to body-up a less-agile forward and has size to battle with him around the block.

Dante Exum is another intriguing piece on the floor tonight, with one of the previous draft’s top point guard prospects being a great barometer for both Russell and Jordan Clarkson. Exum is similar to Randle in that this year is functioning as his true sophomore season after missing the entire ‘15-16 season.

This is a good test across the board for the Lakers, and without Hayward on the floor, their most winnable game over the next four on the road. Starting the year 2-0?

You never know!

Time: 6 p.m. PT

TV: SpectrumSportsNet

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