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Lakers vs. Jazz Preview: Back at it on the road

The Lakers are back at it on Monday against the same Utah Jazz team that ran them off their home floor three days ago. Can they exact revenge in Utah on the end of a back-to-back?

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Utah Jazz v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

After a frustrating loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, the Lakers are back at it exactly 15 hours later, but this time on the road for a rematch battle versus the scorching Utah Jazz — the same feisty team that outperformed the purple and gold in their homecourt last Friday. Although this time, the Lakers are hoping to rewrite the script.

In order for the Lakers to exact revenge on Utah, they simply just have to play better than they did last Friday and Sunday (#analysis, I know). But no, what I really mean is Los Angeles can’t give up 64 points in the paint, 25 points from second-chance opportunities, and allow the Jazz to score 42.5% from the 3-point line and 50.5% from the field once again.

Remember, moments after Friday’s disappointing loss, Darvin Ham called out the Lakers’ sloppy defense (which ranked second in the league at that time) and literally said it “was an F at best” because of several missed rotations, miscommunication, and basic errors on that end. This Jazz team was the first to drop 130 points against the Lakers’ defense and that’s in large part because of Lauri Markkanen’s 27 points and 12 rebounds as well as our old friend Jordan Clarkson’s 20-point performances.

This then leads me to my next point. Markkanen and Clarkson were two of the best players on the floor last Friday to the point that they outperformed LeBron James and Anthony Davis. So in order for Los Angeles to rewrite Friday’s script, James (who had 17 points in 7-24 shooting) and Davis (who had 22 points and only scored two in the second half) simply just need to play significantly better than they did.

For starters, it would be nice if James finally converts his shots both from the perimeter and on the paint. He’s currently shooting 20.7% from the arc this season (and has missed 16 straight 3-pointers before finally making one on Sunday) and it’s by far the worst in the league. As for Davis — who vowed to demand the ball more offensively after Friday’s loss but still only scored two of his 19 points in the second half against the Cavs on Sunday — cannot literally do what he’s been doing in the past two games and once again, be outscored and outrebounded by Markkanen.

Aside from the superstar duo, the rest of the team also needs to step up against this Jazz team that gets its scoring contribution from top to bottom. Los Angeles needs to control the pace (what they do best), get in transition, rebound the ball better, and most importantly improve their third-quarter performance. They did exactly this in the first half against the Cavaliers but crumbled down in the second half once again.

If the Lakers play their cards right and do all of these things for 48 minutes, then we might just see a different script from last Friday and Sunday’s forgettable and disappointing matchup.

Notes and Updates

  • The Lakers won’t be the only ones on a back-to-back. The Jazz, who faced the Clippers on Sunday, will also travel to Salt Lake City from Los Angeles.
  • Circling back to Sunday’s loss against the Cavs, the Lakers played a well-composed first half, but as I mentioned above, crumbled in the second half and gave up 56 points. According to Ham, it was a matter of the team’s inability to stay organized on offense, their turnovers, unforced errors, and foul trouble that caused them the game.
  • The Lakers are set to be without Patrick Beverley (non-Covid illness), Dennis Schröder (thumb) and Thomas Bryant (thumb) again, and a few new names have joined them on the injury report for Monday.

The Lakers and Jazz will tip off at 7:15 p.m. PT on Monday. The game will only be televised locally on Spectrum SportsNet.

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

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