Game Preview: Utah Jazz at LA Lakers

The Utah Jazz, winners of their last four, travel to L.A. to take on the struggling Lakers, who are a phenomenal 2-10 in the month of January. L.A. needs a win, somehow, but facing a confident Utah team doesn’t seem to be the most favorable of matchups. Can the Jazz get the season sweep? AccuScore data does not seem to think so. The simulations have the Lakers as heavy favorites, with a 81.6 percent chance at getting the win. As of right now, AccuScore doesn’t have data on the spread; assuming the LAL -3.5 spread most sites have, AccuScore would suggest taking LA on that bet. The average score after 10,000 simulations is 106-96. The Lakers have a 51.4 percent chance at getting a big win (10 points or more), as opposed to Utah’s 5.2 percent chance at the same margin of victory. The Lakers have approximately a 10.8 percent chance at a close win (four points or fewer) while the Jazz have a 7.9 percent chance at that. Betting Odds via OddsShark Utah Jazz Trends: When playing on Friday are 4-6 Before playing Indiana are 6-4 After playing Washington are 6-4 After a win are 5-5 Los Angeles Lakers Trends: When playing on Friday are 5-5 Before playing Oklahoma City are 5-5 After playing Memphis are 8-2 After a loss are 2-8 For the Jazz to continue their winning streak, they’ll need Paul Millsap to continue his dominance of the Lakers on the road. In his last two games against LAL at Staples, he’s scored 24 points both times; he also pulled down an average of 15.5 rebounds in the two games. Against Detroit, Millsap had 15 points and 16 rebounds in just 32 minutes of play. Assuming Jefferson and Dwight get matched up, Millsap will have plenty of possessions facing up against either Gasol or Clark. The Lakers even had Jordan Hill last time to try and match Millsap’s energy, but that didn’t do much to slow him down. Millsap is projected to get 15 points (47% FG), 7 rebounds, and 1 steal, but I’ll be extremely surprised if Millsap doesn’t surpass all those numbers. Clark might have an inch on Millsap, but gives up so much skill and strength. If Dwight is occupied with Jefferson, Millsap has got to capitalize on the one-on-one opportunities against Clark. Millsap is projected to get at least two offensive rebounds. For the Lakers, there’s really not much analysis needed. Their key to victory? Play some defenses for once, please, and try not to turn the ball over. The team ranks sixth in points scored, but 26th in points allowed. At least they have a positive point differential? Yay? Keep an eye out for L.A.’s three-pointers tonight. They’re projected to throw up 17 shots from beyond the arc, and projected to make seven of them. They’re third in the league in three-point baskets made per game (8.8). Surprisingly, the Lakers average one more made three on the road than at home. Via Team Rankings, the Lakers get approximately a quarter of their total points from three-pointers. Depending on how aggressive Dwight is with his [hurt] shoulder, we might see the team’s three-point attempts go over 20. Given the last couple of weeks, I’d say this might be a game where the Lakers get things together, even if just for 48 minutes. The Jazz are just 9-15 on the road, and as I’ve said before, bet on Utah when they’re in SLC and against them when they’re not. The Lakers won’t beat this Jazz team but 10+ points, but I do think L.A. gets the win tonight. Game prediction: Lakers by 7.

Projected Leaders

Points

  • Kobe Bryant: 30 points (46% FG)
  • Dwight Howard: 16 points (62% FG)
  • Al Jefferson: 20 points (45% FG)
  • Paul Millsap: 15 points (47% FG)

Rebounds

  • Dwight Howard: 13 rebounds (3 offensive)
  • Pau Gasol: 9 rebounds (2-3 offensive)
  • Al Jefferson: 9 rebounds (2 offensive)
  • Paul Millsap: 7 rebounds (2 offensive)

Assists

  • Steve Nash: 9 assists
  • Kobe Bryant: 6 assists
  • Jamaal Tinsley: 5 assists
  • Earl Watson: 3 assists
  • Gordon Hayward: 3 assists