The Los Angeles Lakers will look to continue to prove NBA schedule truthers wrong with another win against a good opponent on Wednesday night, this time taking on the Jazz in Utah on the second night of a back-to-back.
LeBron James, Anthony Davis and the rest of the team already silenced some of that noise with their big win Tuesday night against the Denver Nuggets, but the more victories they can compile against title contenders, the better the fan base can feel about their own championship aspirations.
L.A. will be facing a somewhat shorthanded Jazz team, though. Mike Conley will not be suiting up because of some tightness in his hamstring, making Utah a considerably different team. He’ll certainly be missed, though, as Utah has been better with him on the court (outscoring opponents by 2.6 points per 100 possessions) than with him off it (-1.2 net rating).
Overall, much like the team the Lakers just beat, Utah has kind of stumbled out of the gate compared to what people thought they would look like heading into the season. They currently sit at only 12-9 and, when you take into consideration what many thought they were capable of given the overall talent level across the roster, they’re certainly looking to get back on track as soon as possible.
L.A. already beat Utah earlier this season at Staples Center, as the Jazz couldn’t figure out an answer for James. He finished that game with 32 points, 10 assists and 7 rebounds, and a game-high +17 plus/minus. Utah doesn’t really have anyone to slow James down (to be honest, no one really does), so if he gets going, there just isn’t much that will get in his way.
Still, many of the Lakers were apparently dealing with some flu-like symptoms Tuesday night, so the energy level Wednesday will certainly be something to keep an eye on. This may be even harder than a normal back-to-back at high altitude, which is already no easy feat. If the Lakers can pull this one out, it will say a lot about this team’s level of resilience.
Notes and Updates
- The Lakers were all blown away by the way Anthony Davis shut down the Nuggets while dealing with flu-like symptoms that required an IV bag at halftime on Tuesday, and Alex Caruso, Frank Vogel and Dwight Howard joined LeBron James in trumpeting Davis as the frontrunner for Defensive Player of the Year.
- We have Danny Green coming as a guest on our podcast tomorrow (subscribe at the links below), but until then, check out this excerpt on what he had to say about the way this team doesn’t care who gets fourth quarter minutes, and are all willing to sacrifice to make sure the Lakers reach their ultimate goal of a title.
Tip-off for the game against the Jazz is slated for 6:00 p.m. PST and will be televised both nationally on NBATV and locally on Spectrum SportsNet.