by Alma Bean
Feature Image: Photo by Ryan Sun of Deseret News.
The Utah Jazz (36-42) takes on the Los Angeles Lakers (40-38) as they look to avoid a loss eliminating Utah from playoff contention.
What to Look For
Los Angeles is coming in winning six of their last seven games winning by an average margin of +11.7 points. Austin Reaves has been a major part of these wins finding the open man leading the team averaging 6.9 APG. This game can be seen as a minimal homecoming for Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt who played for Utah at the beginning of the season. Since the trade, Beasley and Vanderbilt combined are averaging 18.4 PPG, 10.5 RPG, 2.9 APG in their time in Los Angeles.
Even with Utah coming in on a two-game losing streak, Utah currently has a 2-0 record against Los Angeles but their last game against each other was on November 11, 2022. Not having 12 assists from Mike Conley this time around will be missed but will be filled by the playmaking abilities of Kelly Olynyk, who is averaging 4.2 APG since the trade.
Key of the Game
All eyes are on the backcourt. With Collin Sexton making his first return to the court since the All-Star break, Utah is going to see a lot of energy. With Talen Horton-Tucker averaging 33.7 PPG, 5.3 RPG, and 6.7 APG over the last three games, it will be interesting to see how this backcourt will function plugging Sexton back in.
Outside of the game, the Western Conference standings will have major implications after tonight. Utah will need to keep a close eye on the Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Brooklyn Nets and the Oklahoma City Thunder vs Golden State Warriors games. If Utah loses and both Minnesota and Oklahoma City win Utah’s playoff hopes will be eliminated for the first time since the 2015-16 season.
Los Angeles- Mo Bamba: Out (ankle), Anthony Davis: Probable (foot), LeBron James: Questionable (foot), Scotty Pippen Jr.: Out (ankle), D’Angelo Russell: Questionable (foot)
Utah- Jordan Clarkson: Out (hand), Walker Kessler: Out (concussion), Rudy Gay: Out (back), Lauri Markkanen: Out (wrist)
Where to Watch
Tip-off between Los Angeles and Utah will be at 7:00 p.m. MT on AT&T SportsNet.