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Lakers vs. Jazz Preview: Can Utah slow Los Angeles down?

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The Lakers really need to stop winning basketball games. Maybe the Jazz can help.

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NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Utah Jazz Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

There are three guarantees in life: Death, taxes and Ricky Rubio cooking the Lakers. On Sunday, Los Angeles will see Rubio and the Utah Jazz at Staples Center.

The Jazz have already clinched a playoff berth in the Western Conference, but the Lakers determine who they see in the first round. Utah is currently projected to play the Portland Trail Blazers, but a loss on Sunday would increase their odds of seeing James Harden and the Houston Rockets in the first round. That’s not ideal for any team, except maybe the Golden State Warriors.

On paper, there’s no real reason to believe the Lakers are going to beat the Jazz, especially when you consider Utah is up 2-1 on the season series, but Los Angeles has found ways to win games of late in spite of all the banged up bodies on the team’s roster.

Over their last eight games, the Lakers have gone 5-3 and have posted the third-best defensive rating in the league. They’re also ranked fourth in rebounds per game, fifth in assists per game and fourth in steals per game.

Are the Lakers getting better or have other teams just stopped caring? We’ll let you decide.

All that said, there is absolutely no reason to root for the Lakers to win another game this season.

The Lakers are tied in the wins column with the Minnesota Timberwolves, and a loss on Sunday would likely push them out of the bottom-10, decreasing their chances of landing a top-four pick to just 9.4 percent. Seeing the South Bay Lakers trample actual NBA teams is cool and everything, but do you know what would be even cooler? Jarrett Culver in a Lakers uniform for the next decade.

Tip-off is at 6:30 p.m. on NBA TV.

For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Christian on Twitter at @RadRivas.